Sorry this is long.
Just some of my own philosophy of life that I have been working through this week.
I have always had an admiration for people who hold definite opinions on issues and know exactly what they believe, backing up all their beliefs with facts and statistics. In the 60’s and 70’s as a Christian young person trying to understand my faith and explain what I believed to others, I often wished I could pull facts and proofs out of my head that would leave the people I talked to with no choice but to choose to follow Christ. But I never got to that point, especially being able to whip irrefutable evidence out of my head. I still had many unanswered questions myself. I always carried around a fair amount of guilt because of that. I figured that if I was really strongly opinionated, that would be a good sign that I was certain about what I believed. I can remember wishing that I knew the answers to life’s questions in more black and white terms.
So I studied books like Josh McDowell’s evidence books to learn more facts to prove my beliefs. I thought this is what I needed to do to be able to defend my faith better.
But, you know, my mind does not seem to process information in this factual format very well. I never could remember the factual details, the lists of proofs by probabilities. I just became frustrated with myself. All the reading of proofs was about as interesting as memorizing the periodic table in chemistry or the dates of wars and treaties in history. Because I didn’t have a good grasp of these proofs, or much of a taste for them, I felt incapable of adequately witnessing to my faith. I couldn’t help but feel pretty inadequate – I simply could not debate issues on the basis of proofs. And I thought that was the way it needed to be done.
I guess this was my attempt to fit my understanding of my faith into the modern, rational, scientific culture of my youth. Scientists were using research to prove things. Philosophers used logic to prove the irrefutable truths they proposed. We tried to do the same with a very rational approach to faith – one that needed to be substantiated by facts and proofs.
But this approach never was a good fit for my personality. I am more comfortable asking questions, sharing ideas, working through my doubts till I come to an understanding of an issue. Although I have strong beliefs and some basic beliefs which I will not back down on, I remain a person who can be persuaded by good evidence to modify my stand on an issue. Many of today’s issues are not simply black or white. Love modifies how I put what I believe into practice. I am trying to be sensitive to what Jesus is trying to teach me through the words he left us and through what he is able to teach me as I spend time listening to him.
Don’t get me wrong – I believe facts about things exist and are important but there is more to life than just facts and things that can be proven. What can be proven by science; what is believed as fact, is not all there is to life. Things I have experienced in God’s presence can’t be proven but they have changed me. Now when I tell about my faith, I don’t get hung up on trying to present a bunch of facts. I simply tell my own story. I live my life and they see how it goes for me. Facts to awe others with would be a lot simpler. I am an imperfect demonstration to watch.
I can still be intimidated by people who have all their facts together. Sometimes it causes me to listen to my fears of inadequacy rather than focus on how God wants me to live. So I try and remember that love for others is still more important than knowing “everything about everything” (1Cor13:2 NLT).