Take this for what it is…but I felt like bringing a discussion in the comments up here to the front page.
Last night, someone identified only as “oj700” commented on this post I actually wrote one year ago tomorrow, entitled “Love…Does Not Seek Its Own.” I want to publish his/her remarks exactly as written:
“Ok im not tryng hurt you but tell me this do you truly believe the bible or ancient biblical text are true i don’t believe in god as you do but when you explain your savior and your creator i see love but tell me do you really believe this because of experiences and actually been so selfless that you’ve endured so much that would drive a normal insane even then you still keep suffering or are reading these text and just taking in there words to be seen as a good person in your and peoples eyes, would you do it if you at one point your own loved ones disowned you because they didn’t see it as gods way or would you sin a horrible sin if it ment you would never be sent to heaven , iv never in my life seen a selfless act we do things to feel good in one way or another what im saying is put down the bible and go and suffer. test these word you speak do the worst be put through the worst then tell me are a man or myth are you seeking something that’s been feed to you by a book, please do not take this as a stab at you if i do please forgive me. Truth is i love god even if he’s been created or not because he’s helped more people than anything in this world.and please do not try to make me feel stupid just tell me do you think you know what your talking about because i don’t know either im just seeking the truth.”
I decided to respond here, not to single this person out in any way–because I truly felt an honest outpouring in oj700’s words. I just felt there are possibly others who would benefit from this dialogue. So here’s my response:
I’m neither hurt nor angered by your questions, and I appreciate and respect you for bringing them up. I hope you’ll take my answers as an honest human response.
You asked if I think I know what I’m talking about. An atheist acquaintance of mine once said he distrusts any Christian (or any person for that matter) who is absolutely convinced about their religious beliefs–he felt that most of the world’s trouble comes from people who are dogmatic about what they believe. I think that’s something worth thinking about. People think faith means knowing something without a doubt. I have come to see it more as a choice to *trust* that something is true even when it cannot be conclusively proven. In other words, there has to be an element of doubt in order to choose faith, because faith means choosing to believe even when the evidence is inconclusive. So in my case…I do think I know a little something of what I’m talking about–not because I can prove it, but because I choose to take it on faith even when it doesn’t make sense at the moment…because I know I don’t see the big picture.
You suggested I put down the Bible and go out and suffer. On this statement, friend, I have to fault you, because it comes from a presumption that I have *not* suffered. The truth is, I have suffered much, and I have suffered long–not as severely as man can suffer, perhaps–but I understand the pain of lack, and betrayal, and injustice, and alienation. In fact, ironically, much of my suffering has been at the hands of people who call themselves Christians. I have questioned my own faith, and the very existence of God at times, and in the end I still came through it as a believer. This blog is not my attempt to bury myself in the Bible or to hide from real life, but rather an attempt to process many things I have actually experienced and suffered. It would be wise for you not to make these kinds of assumptions–nobody gets to the truth you seek by sterotyping. My personal faith has been tested more than you could possibly know. Just saying.
You said you have never seen anyone commit a totally selfless act. Again, this actually presumes to know the motives in people’s hearts, and that’s something I don’t think we have the right or the ability to do. That said–I, too, realize that many good things are done with mixed motives, and I’m as guilty of that as the next person. I happen to believe that this comes from our fallen nature as humans, and that any good in man comes from God, whether or not that person is a believer. It does not change the fact that our example is Jesus Christ, who lived on earth as a man, and who committed the most selfless act in history by his voluntary death on a cross. There is such a thing as selfless action, and while I often fall short of it, there is a standard that as a Christ-follower I try to emulate. But even if I never get there, and even if I never see someone act selflessly, it doesn’t change the standard, the truth about love and selflessness that Jesus modeled for us. Truth is still truth on its own merit, even if no one lives in it.
One other thing about selflessness. If you haven’t read it, I felt I should recommend that you read “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.” Read about the countless Christ-followers throughout history who have chosen to suffer and die rather than renounce their faith. Not an easy read, but it might change your perspective a little on whether selfless acts are possible in this world.
Finally, you asked (if I understand this correctly) if I truly believe the Bible, the “text”, something that’s been “fed to me by a book”. Here’s my best response: I do not read (or live by) the Bible to be seen as a “good person”, or live my life by something fed to me by a book. I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and a lover of God. Not only do I believe in Him, I believe I have a relationship with Him. My interaction with the Bible is not because of the Bible itself, but because of the person revealed in its pages. My focus isn’t on the text, but on the God I believe inspired the text. What I’m trying to say is that my faith isn’t about words on a page, but about a divine Person I am following. The words on the page clarify my journey and help me to understand what Jesus desires for me, and from me–and in many ways, brings some sense of purpose to what I have suffered. You may agree, or disagree; but at least I hope that all makes sense.
Thanks again for your comment. I wish you Godspeed in your search for the truth.