The relationship between faith and reason often eludes us. Faith can be so fleeting and is often subjective. Reason, on the other hand, depends on observable, repeatable facts. There are many things in the life of the church that rely on faith—things like the existence of God, the incarnation of the Son, the presence of the Holy Spirit, the authority of scripture. There really is not much physical evidence to support many of the beliefs or claims that we make as Christians. It stands to reason that if something is true we should be able to verify it through objective measurements and tests.
Is faith reasonable? I have to admit that there are times when I wonder if what I believe as a Christian is really reasonable or if I have just immersed myself in some kind of spiritual smoke screen. I cannot prove the existence of God. I look at the world around me and wonder if there really is some higher power that is responsible for it all. And if there is, why can’t I see it or touch it or measure it? If God really wanted us to believe, it seems that it would have been more reasonable to offer us some kind of absolute evidence rather than making such a mystery of faith. It would be so much easier on us if we could set faith aside and only believe the things that we can prove. Stands to reason—doesn’t it?
Of course, then I remember that, reasonable or not, there is something that give substance to our faith. Evidence of a higher power can be experienced in the community of faith. In the community of the church there is a continuity of faith that goes all the way back to Abraham. It was faith—not reason—that led Abraham and Sarah to move to the land God promised them. It was that same faith—not reason—that inspired the formation of the early church. It was faith—not reason—that gave the community the strength and courage to thrive through the ages even in the face of trials and persecution and scorn. It is faith—not reason—that assures us today that God is with us and continues to work out the divine plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. Faith is a gift from God—a gift that guides us along the path that leads to life.
Reason relies on evidence that can be seen and touched and measured. On the other hand, faith is an experience. We experience the fullness of faith in the life of the church—the community of faith. Here in the church we are connected to a deep and rich faith with roots that extend to the larger community through the ages. Participation in the life of the church—through worship, study, fellowship, and service—is vital to growing in faith as we learn to be a community that exists not on the basis of reason, but on the basis of faith. May our faith continue to grow beyond the church and spill over into the community and world around us so that others may experience the faith God has to offer.
Grace & Peace, Pastor Rik