Pastor Dave’s eNote: Fit-ness
Categories: Pastor Dave's eNote
“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” CS Lewis.
French theologian and philosopher Paul Ricoeur was born in Valence, Drome, France to a Protestant family. At that time, France was predominantly Roman Catholic, which made him an outsider. His father died in World War I and he was raised by his grandparents. I have always admired his personal journey, intellectual brilliance and his creative way of thinking about life and faith. He tried to reconcile rationality with faith and theology. He knew there was some worth to rational truth and at the same time there was great value in faith and the scriptures. The post enlightenment world he lived in wasn’t able to reconcile faith and theology, and rationality they were at odds with each other.
He introduced the term “second naiveté,” as way of thinking about how Christians might appropriate their faith in a rational world. While this is an over simplification for Ricoeur, faith was a truth that went beyond rationality and scientific method, it was a deeper truth that had to be embraced symbolically like a child. When I first learned of it, I’ll admit I was put off. I was offended by the idea that the core truths of the Christian faith, which I had come to embrace as the central truths of my life, were relegated to something akin to “naiveté.” Then, later in life, I came to appreciate what Ricoeur was trying to communicate.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1Cor 1:18). I realized just how differently, we as people of faith, see the world. There is a naiveté, a foolishness, a child-like irrationality to the way we see the world, creation, history and even ourselves. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we do not see the way the world sees, nor do we think as the world thinks. We should always see people in the light of God’s love and redemptive potential. We should view history with the light of the Kingdom of God, breaking into the world and we should see life itself as holding the promise and potential of eternal life. Most importantly, however “foolish” the world thinks it might be, we take responsibility for what we believe and should build our life around those beliefs.
C.S. Lewis understood fully the implications of faith. There is a sense in which we don’t fit into this world. There is a discomfort, a disconnect, an uneasiness, with living in a world that doesn’t understand our faith and how it shapes our values. Or, at least there should be. The truth is, as followers of Jesus, we are outsiders and are meant for another world. This is why the Apostle Paul wrote, “We know that if the earthly tent we live in is torn down, we have a building in heaven that comes from God, an eternal house not built by human hands.” What Paul is saying, this life, this body, is temporary and one day we will have an eternal life and an eternal body.”
If you’re feeling there is part of you that runs counter to the world, take heart. This is the way it should be. In fact, our lives and decisions ought to be examined on a regular basis. We should ask ourselves whether or not we are in love with this world, or in love with the world yet to come. We should hold up to the light of God’s word, our decisions concerning money, conversations with other people and our goals in this life. And if we’re feeling like we just don’t fit in, we should take heart, it may just be that our faith in God means something to us.
This Sunday, we will be examining what it means to be baptized into the community of faith. We’ll learn more about our unique Wesleyan/ Methodist heritage and the challenges facing our theology as a church, as it relates to baptism and membership in the community of faith. We will also get an opportunity to learn more about our 8:15am and 9:30am worship leader, Jonathan Nease. Be sure to look for more information in the days ahead, concerning Jonathan and his role at HMUMC.
Last, our church is engaging in a long range planning process. The initial part will be an assessment, that will include an open conversation about our church and how we can best serve our membership and the community. If you are interested in being a part of one of the focus groups, you love what God is doing and will do through Hamilton Mill UMC, please contact Phyllis Rogeri at firstname.lastname@example.org or 770.271.8855 Ext. 101, about opportunities to join this conversation.
David L. Davis