Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Modern Day Parable about Faith

There was once a little boy name Josh. He was fascinated by science and wanted to know how everything in the universe worked. Even as a little boy Josh drove his parents and teachers crazy by asking complicated questions that had complicated answers. When Josh grew up, he got a job in a scientific laboratory working for the famous Dr. Reason. Dr. Reason was well known for doing excellent research and producing scholarly reports on that research. Josh enjoyed working for him and as the years passed he was able to be a part of exciting research that answered so many of his questions about how the universe worked. When Dr. Reason would finish a major project, he would always publish an article in a well respected scientific journal about his work. Josh loved reading those articles. They made sense to him. The research was meticulous and the conclusions were rational. Dr. Reason was so careful in his research that no one had ever proved any of the conclusions in his articles wrong.

Josh respected Dr. Reason for the research and conclusions that those articles represented, but the longer Josh worked for Dr. Reason, the more their relationship evolved. In time, they became great friends, perhaps even best friends. Dr. Reason would remember little details about Josh and use those details to make Josh's life more joyful. For example, Dr. Reason remembered that Josh liked chocolate cake, and so he would bring chocolate cake in when it was Josh's birthday. Though Josh did not have quite as good a memory as Dr. Reason, over time he realized that Dr. Reason like baked chicken. So Josh would often bring a whole baked chicken to the lab for lunch and share it with Dr. Reason. Dr. Reason was also willing to help Josh when Josh needed it. When Josh's car broke down, Dr. Reason gave him a bonus so he could get the car fixed. When Josh's grandmother passed away, Dr. Reason came to the funeral and sat next to Josh and they cried together and found comfort in each other's friendship. Though the scientific articles that Dr. Reason wrote meant a lot to Josh, it was only a piece of their relationship. It was all the other things that really made them friends.

One day Dr. Reason published an article in a journal about a project that he had been working on in a different laboratory. Josh had known that Dr. Reason had a number of other labs where he was doing research. Josh was vaguely aware of what was going on in those labs but did not know all the details like he did in his own lab. When the new article came out, many people did not like Dr. Reason's conclusions. People began to come to Josh and ask him how he could continue to work for Dr. Reason when his conclusions were so faulty. Josh did his best to defend Dr. Reason's work, but since he did not know all the details of what was being done in those other labs, he was not able to give as good an answer as he might have liked. Josh did ask Dr. Reason about it, and though Dr. Reason explained it to him, the research and work was so complex that Josh really could not fully understand it. But Josh tried to explain it the best he could to those who asked him about it.

As the controversy intensified, many people said that Josh had "blind faith" in Dr. Reason because Josh kept defending something that he could not fully explain. Others said Josh had made a "leap of faith." But Josh was not moved from his belief in Dr. Reason's abilities or intelligence. Josh patiently explained to others that while he was indeed exercising faith in Dr. Reason in this work that he did not fully understand, it was not "blind" faith, nor was it a "leap" of faith. From Josh's perspective, it was only a step of faith, not a leap of faith. From Josh's perspective, it was not blind faith, but informed faith. Josh had this perspective because Josh knew Dr. Reason really well. Dr. Reason had proved himself to Josh, not just in the scholarly research and well written articles that had been published, but also in the friendship itself.

Josh was informed enough about Dr. Reason's work and life and that he felt comfortable continuing working for Dr. Reason even though he did not fully understand this particular situation. Others kept using words like "blind" and "leap" and Josh kept explaining that it was an informed step of faith, not a blind leap, but many people just could not understand Josh's perspective. At first Josh was frustrated with these people, even a little angry at some of them. He even said a few things he shouldn't have in his frustration. But in time Josh realized that these people could not understand because they did not know Dr. Reason the way he did. Though Josh really did want to know all the details and all the answers about this project that Dr. Reason was doing, he knew Dr. Reason enough to realize that in time, all would be revealed. Josh was comfortable in his informed step of faith and remained Dr. Reason's lab assistant. Many people did not understand Josh's choice, but Josh knew it was the right one and so he was at peace with his choice even if others did not understand.

Moral of the parable:

Many people say that Christians blindly follow a God that is only revealed in the Bible. But for Christians who have built a relationship with God, He is not just revealed in the Bible, but also in their experiences with God. The Bible shows God's work and parts of it are very easy to understand and explain to others. Other parts are more difficult to understand and explain to others. Those who are not Christians call it blind faith or a leap of faith. But for Christians who have a personal relationship with God, it is not a blind leap of faith at all. Yes, it is faith, but it is more of an informed step of faith than a blind leap. They understand parts of the Bible very well, and they know God well through their personal experiences with Him. Their friendship with God and the parts of the Bible they do understand give them the faith to believe the parts of the Bible that might not be as easy to explain. Faith is required, but from the Christian's perspective, it is a faith that is well founded and makes perfect sense. Others may lack the ability to understand the informed step of faith that a reflective Christian might make, but to the Christian, it makes perfect sense.

8 comments:

  1. Joan O Connor, South CarolinaDecember 5, 2009 at 9:28 PM

    WOW – excellent. It makes the reader sit up and pay attention and try not to miss any sentence of the story line. Thank you.

    I’d like to think that Josh is so enamored with Dr. Reason that he begins another cycle…. gives “chocolate cake” to inquirers, gets to know each inquirer, and they eventually become lab assistants, too : )

    Thank you so much, Terry. You’re always thinking “outside of the box”.

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  2. Janie Bryant, South CarolinaDecember 5, 2009 at 9:29 PM

    Really like the parable! In fact, I like all of your writings, When is your first book coming out?

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  3. I like this!!!!

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  4. Relationships and Experiences... You hit this out of the park!

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  5. This kind of thing is turning into one of my big themes. It's one of the big themes in the Portents trilogy I'm writing with Christohper. I really liked this.

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  6. I liked this way better than the boring stuff!

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  7. Outstanding article. Are you familiar with Louie Giglio? I'd suggest that "Josh" see Giglio's videos on the universe. Portions of them are on the web. Seeing them in entirety makes a far greater impact. Second, I'd suggest that "Josh" read Ravi Zacharias. Zacharias is the number one apologist, he is brilliant, he uses logic to prove his points. What an incredible thinker! C.S. Lewis and Charles Colson are two others that I'd suggest to young men like "Josh."

    As you work with young men like "Josh," remember, "intent precedes content." If they just want to argue, then it probably won't matter what you say. If, indeed, he wants TRUTH, he will encounter Christ.

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  8. Thanks for sharing this story. I thought you'd like to read how God used this and prompted me to reach out to our small group.

    Dear Small Group,

    Read the parable from Dr. Terry Dorsett below. It's a quick and easy read. Would you stand firm if you were Josh? Would you continue to testify in support and defense of Dr. Reason?

    Many times I have questions. And many times, these questions seem to go unanswered or unexplained. But I continue to believe and defend God. I continue to defend something I don't fully understand or even something I struggle believing. When I struggle in my faith, I am reminded of Mark 9:24 (one of my favorite stories in the Bible).

    We looked at this in Common Ground recently I think. A father brings his demon possessed son to Jesus, begging Jesus to heal his son. The demon would cause to son to throw himself in the fire or drown himself. The father had gotten help from everyone, including the Disciples, but no one could cast out the demon. The father said to Jesus: "If you can do anything, have compassion on us..." Jesus responded: "If you can? All things are possible for one who believes." The father cried out: "I believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" (v24)

    Sometimes I struggle to understand things about God... faith... God's will... or the purpose in life. To be honest, prayer has often left me with more questions. But, prayer has also strengthened my faith by reminding me of times when God did prove himself to me. I hold onto those experiences and work hard to believe even though I may not understand my current circumstance. I ask God to help me believe that he is still sovereign, that he's on his thrown, and that he has a purpose and reason for the situation I find myself in.

    I pray that whatever you may be struggling with, that you can remember a time with God did prove himself.

    Grant

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