Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Difficulty of Believing

The difficulty of believing is a challenge that is always present in the spiritual journey of the Christian.  At times it is a pronounced difficulty, brought about by tragedy or doubt. 

There are guiding principles that have been established to help the “traveler” maintain course.  These are essential and cannot be dispensed with any more than a map in foreign city can be thrown away.

Before we look carefully at the map, we need first to understand the need for the map.  There is something mysterious about this.  Men have a particular need for navigating without a compass.  Even with unknown guideposts they will press ahead as if they know exactly where they are going.  As we apply this analogy for our Christian religion it becomes a script, a guide to explain our behavior.

Many people have the idea that Faith is merely a matter of opinions.

“About religion, one man’s opinion is as good as another.  Admittedly there are some religious “systems” that do not claim to be anything more than a set of opinions.  Curiously the ancient druids and paganism in general do not offer much in terms of explanation.  They simply examined nature. One of the great scenes of English Church History took place during the period of missionary work in which Jesus was introduced in the teaching of the Gospel to the Anglo-Saxon king: “Coifi, the High Priest, replied without hesitation:  ‘Your Majesty, let us give careful consideration to this new teaching, for I frankly admit that, in my experience, the religion that we have hitherto professed seems valueless and powerless.

Another of the king’s chief men signified his agreement with this prudent argument, and went on to say: ‘Your Majesty, when we compare the present life of man with that time of which we have no knowledge, it seems to me like the swift flight of a lone sparrow through the banquet hall where you sit in the winter months to dine with your thanes and counselors.  Inside there is a comforting fire to warm the room; outside, the wintry storms of snow and rain are rising.  The sparrow flies swiftly in through one door of the hall and out through another. While he is inside, he is safe from the wintry storms; but for a few moments of comfort, he vanishes from sight into the darkness whence he came.
Similarly, man appears on earth for a little while, but we know nothing of what went before this life, or what follows. Therefore if this new teaching can reveal any more certain knowledge it seems only right that we follow it.”

The History of the English Church and People, by the Venerable Bede
(612 AD)