Faith and common sense work together

Have you ever sat in a chair that couldn’t hold your weight? There’s nothing like that terror as the legs wobble beneath you, and you freeze, paralyzed with uncertainty, because if you move at all, it might collapse and hurt you. At the very least, you’ll look like an idiot. My friends, welcome to faith.

That’s an encouraging thought, right? Faith is like a cheap plastic chair that you aren’t sure will hold your weight until you sit in it. That’s what it feels like sometimes, and honestly there is some truth to that concept.

If you rest your whole weight on a chair that’s too flimsy to support you, it’ll collapse beneath you. That’s just the way gravity works. That’s also the way cheap plastic works too. And to a certain extent, you won’t know if it will hold you until you try sitting in it.

God doesn’t ask for blind faith

Yes, sitting in a plastic chair takes faith. But faith doesn’t have to be blind, and anyone who tells you differently doesn’t really know what he believes in.

Do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit.... There are many false prophets in the world. - 1 John 4:1Personally, I know there’s a lot of me to hold up, so I usually test a chair before I sit in it.

That’s not a lack of faith. That’s just common sense.

And I think that’s where a lot of folks gets confused, because faith and common sense don’t have to be at odds with each other.

Even the Bible says that we’re supposed to think about what we believe and why we believe it (1 John 4:1). Jesus never commanded us to turn our brains off. In fact, He said the opposite. (1 Peter 5:8)

Now, does that mean we’ll understand everything?

Instead of answering, let me ask another question. Do you understand everything anyway?

Faith isn’t an exclusively religious concept. Everyone has faith in some form or another, whether we’re talking about relationships or job positions or the integrity of a plastic chair’s design.

Most of the important questions of life can’t be answered without faith. Granted, maybe your faith is in science, but science can’t explain everything either, which is why some supposed sciences are accepted on faith. (And if you’ve been paying attention to the scientific community over the years, you’d notice that science continually proves the Bible is true. But that’s another blog post.)

The point is, you don’t have to sacrifice common sense to have faith.

You don't have to sacrifice common sense to have faith. - A.C. WilliamsIf a cheap plastic chair doesn’t look like it’s going to support you, don’t sit in it. If a pastor on YouTube is promising success and prosperity if you donate to his organization, you don’t have to do it if you don’t think he’s on the level. If a charity demonstrates a lack of ability to monitor their accounting, you aren’t required by faith to give your money to them.

Don’t turn your brain off. God doesn’t ask you to be blind. He’s gone to painstaking lengths to prove who He is through His Word and through the experiences of people who’ve followed Him.

So ask Him questions. Ask His followers questions. Examine Him. Get to know who He is for yourself, not just the picture that other people paint. He’s waiting for you.

Try it His way and see what happens. You might be surprise how common-sensical following Jesus actually is.

Roaring lion at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

The danger of a predictable enemy

I love big cats, and even though I would probably say tigers are my favorite, lions just seem majestic. But if you think about it, lions aren’t really strategists. Cats aren’t strategists in general, I don’t think. They’re really pretty straightforward. If they want to attack something (or someone), they usually just wait for the right moment, launch themselves at it, and maul it. Then, sometimes they eat it. Other times they drag it up to your porch step to share.

Big cats like lions make a lot of noise. They sound ferocious. And if they ever get a hold of you, they can do some serious damage. I’m not a student of cat science or animal science, so maybe I shouldn’t be saying this because I don’t know for sure. But my observations show that cats are somewhat predictable, big or small. If it’s something they don’t have to work too hard at, they’ll try to achieve it, but they’re far too full of themselves to try it for long if they can’t succeed.

So all the zebras in Africa really need to know is how to keep running because lions only have one attack–charge in swinging. If they can evade long enough, the lion will tire out and give up. But most of the time, the zebra’s stamina gives out before the lion’s does.

Roaring lion at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Roaring lion at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is 1 Peter 5:8.

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

I had a particularly difficult day on Wednesday. Just a number of different circumstances all piled up on top of me and conspired to sour my mood about a lot of different topics. And before I knew it, I was on the verge of shutting down completely and just going home and going to bed.

But I couldn’t. I had responsibilities at Judgement House, my church’s outreach. I had to be there to do my part. And that’s when I remembered that everything in my day had probably blown up and gone crazy for one reason: distraction.

I don’t want to be one of those people who blames every scary shadow on Satan, but I also don’t want to be oblivious to the plain and simple truth that we have an enemy. I’m not sure we as Christ-followers really get that half the time. It’s so easy to buy into culture’s idea of Satan–a goofy character in a red suit with a pitchfork. And who takes a character like that seriously?

Satan is out there, and he hates us. The Bible says in a number of places that he is out among us, looking for people to hurt, looking for opportunities to pull us away from God and to harry us until we make bad choices that will remove us from God’s umbrella of blessings.

Just because you’re having a bad day doesn’t give you the right to give up. Just because you’re having a rough time at the moment doesn’t mean that the rest of your life will be rough. Just because two hours out of your day were awful doesn’t mean that you need to see the rest of your day through the same lens. But Satan wants to make you think that way. He wants nothing more than to ruin our perspectives on God and on what God wants for our lives.

And it’s the same tactics he has used against us from the beginning of time. He wants to make us doubt God. He wants us to go after our own desires, our own plans, our own wants and forget about what God is doing.

Satan is nothing if not predictable.

So how does that explain why I keep falling for his underhanded, dirty tricks over and over again? Well, the way I look at it is that he wears me down, and I let down my guard. And once I’ve stopped expecting him, he’s free to walk in whenever he wants. That’s the danger with a predictable enemy; they can only breach your defenses if you let down your guard.

I nearly let him in yesterday. I nearly opened my ears to him and let him carry me away on the waves of overwhelming insecurity and feelings of uselessness. All lies, I know, but they’re so easy to fall for. I just had to remember that the only way I could fall for them is if I let myself. That choice is up to me, whether to let my guard down or shore up my defenses so I can keep on fighting.

The Holy Spirit lives inside me. God has offered me His strength, and Satan can’t stand against Him. So when I stopped focusing on my failures and my weaknesses and started focusing on how awesome God is, Satan and his stupid lies faded into the background.

So remember, if you’re a Christ-follower, you have an enemy out there. It’s not your mean boss or your unfriendly coworkers or your next door neighbor. We don’t fight against people. Satan is our enemy, and he will do anything to trip us up. But the only way we’ll fall for his tricks is if we allow him into our lives to begin with.