The April issue of Christianity Today had a couple of articles I really liked, both dealing with issues that make Christians stumble. First, one on why “crucified under Pontius Pilate” from the Nicene Creed is so important, dealing with the issue of doubting God’s goodness. The author argues that this often happens when our thoughts focus on the abstract, on abstract concepts like goodness and power and evil, and apply them to the abstract concept of God. When we do that, we can lose our way. We can’t reconcile God with our abstract logical conclusions. I completely agree. I’ve seen quite a few people get lost by thinking in this exact way.
His point is that our faith is not based on the abstract notion that “God” is “good”. Rather, Christians believe because of Jesus. We believe that God sent Jesus to the world for us. And that’s how we know what God is like. It’s not that we shouldn’t consider these other questions of what it means that God is good, or why it is that evil exists in the face of a good God. It’s just that the basis of our faith is not the answers to those questions. It’s what we know God did for us in Jesus. A great reminder.
The other article is entitled “Jesus Disappoints Everyone”. It’s what it sounds like, giving examples from Scripture, even of really holy people (like John the Baptist) who were disappointed by Jesus, and arguing that virtually everyone will be disappointed by Jesus at some point. It’s always because our expectations are wrong. We come up with our own conceptions of what Jesus is supposed to do, and when that doesn’t happen, we get frustrated and discouraged. It’s so true. It’s also true that we’re frequently inconsistent in our outrage, that we’re simultaneously bothered that God lets evil persist and also that He would condemn anyone. And because we’re distracted by our disappointment, we miss seeing what Jesus is doing.
CT is a great magazine. It consistently forces me to think heavenward. With family, work, TV, and the million web sites I keep up with, I so frequently find myself barely keeping up with just the next thing. Any time I get the chance to think about higher things, it’s really refreshing.