Saturday, February 12, 2005

Questions, Unbelief

The Most Natural Prayer - Flannery O'Connor
The experience of losing your faith, or of having lost it, is an experience that in the long run belongs to faith; or at least it can belong to faith if faith is still valuable to you, and it must be or you would not have written me about this. I don’t know how the kind of faith required of a Christian living in the 20th century can be at all if it is not grounded on this experience that you are having right now of unbelief. “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief” is the most natural and most human and most agonizing prayer in the gospels, and I think it is the foundation prayer of faith.

[Source: from a letter to Alfred Corn, 1962 - as posted in Daily Dig 02/11]
I think if we're honest, most of us have struggled through unbelief. That struggle stops us cold, and what we do next usually determines whether we continue to grow spiritually or not. It's like we're afraid to ask questions because we're afraid the answers might be different than expected. And then when we lose our way, when we get outside of what's been comfortable, we shut down. Starting up again means either stopping right there and moving no further forward: "I don't have to change; it's worked for me up to this point, and it will be enough as long as I ignore this thing". Or starting up again means: "Forget this. What has God ever really done for me anyway?"

Or starting up again means: "Wow. I didn't know anything before. What other things am I going to discover on this journey?"

I want to be a part of the process that allows people to come to those questions head on, to find themselves in the middle of something unnerving while still holding onto the strong uplifting hands of Christ. I want to challenge the status quo, knowing that in the challenge there is a realization that we don't know all we thought we knew, that there's a mystery by which to be intrigued, that there's more to God than we can ever really grasp.

As I think about what that means, I've tried to explain to my wife that it thrills me and scares me at the same time. My confidence level is not that high; I only go there as a calling, I think, to the place where I seem to do the best good for the group around me. And that's just it - I need people around me who are like-minded, who ask questions, who want to seek together, who want to worship God with mind and soul and strength. "Losing faith" is a wonderful thing if my faith before was lacking in what God wants - as long as "finding faith" again together, with people who are also following hard after God, is the result.

I guess I just want to reassure myself and anyone paying attention that I do not go into a venture like that lightly, that I don't ask questions to just ask questions and I don't seek to mess up people's theology just for the sake of the headaches involved. I really honestly truly think that asking questions is good, that good answers are good, and that really good answers will almost always lead to better and more life-challenging questions. If anything, that's why I do what I do - because God is in the conversation, and He's trying to speak to anyone really listening.

For me, "What Would Jesus Do?" is not as good a conversation starter as "Jesus Would Do WHAT?!?"


Post a Comment

<< Home