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.

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Pear growing on the tree - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Asking for better fruit

Summer is hot. Yes, that’s probably a complaint, but I’m not a hot weather type of person. And this weather has been remarkably uncomfortable. Better than last year, I’ll admit because it’s a bit drier. But still — not much fun.

Something about the heat just makes me feel generally unproductive. All I really want to do is stretch out with a cold iced tea and write a book. But it’s rare for life to accommodate.

Pear growing on the tree - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Pear growing on the tree – Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Colossians 1:10.

Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

Producing Fruit is one of those phrases that gets used in the church and in religious circles a lot. It used to kind of creep me out when I was little because I couldn’t put the concept of a tree growing fruit on its branches out of my mind, and I think some part of me expected that doing things for God might make apples pop out of my fingers.

But producing fruit for God is more like helping other people come to know Him. Other than bringing praise to God and glorifying Him with our lives, that’s why we’re here. I think Christians forget that sometimes. We need to be telling as many people as we can about who God is and about what He’s done in our lives. Is it up to us if they choose not to believe? No. But it’s our responsibility to tell them.

Another way to produce fruit for God is to encourage other believers. Life is hard, like summers are long, and it’s easy to get discouraged. And if you, as a Christian, can help another Christian to persevere through a difficult season or to get back on the road after they’ve fallen off, that is an accomplishment that will bring glory to God.

This verse is interesting to me, though, because it sounds very much like a process. First, we have to live in a way that will always honor and please the Lord. And as we live that way, our lives will produce every kind of good fruit (not just one kind).

So how do we know how to live in a way that will honor and please the Lord?

Well, notice how this verse starts with the word then? That indicates that this verse follows a statement and that it’s not a standalone verse but a summary of something that’s already been said. So what do the rest of the verses in this chapter say?

This passage comes from Colossians 1:3-14, which is the first chapter in a letter Paul wrote to the Church at Colossi. Like the rest of the epistles, it opens with Paul introducing himself. But in this case, it also identifies who first told the Church about God (a man named Epaphras (Col 1:7). And it’s fascinating to me that Paul tells the Church at Colossi that he has been praying for them constantly (Col 1:9). Ever since he heard about them, Paul started praying for them, and according to the Amplified translation, he hadn’t “ceased to pray and make special requests” for them.

What was he asking?

…[asking] that you may be filled with the full (deep and clear) knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom [in comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God] and in understanding and discernment of spiritual things —

That’s from the Amplified Version. Here it is in NLT:

We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, …

Complete knowledge of his will and spiritual wisdom and understanding — that’s what we need to have if we’re going to live lives that honor and please God. Sounds like a tall order to me. How do you get those?

Well, I suggest doing what Paul did. Ask for them.

Because if you can obtain an understanding of God’s will and an understanding of God’s wisdom, knowing how to live in a way that pleases God will be second nature to you. And if living to please God is second nature, producing fruit for God will be effortless.

And there’s a bonus: you won’t just produce fruit; you will continue to grow as a person, as a believer. And the more you grow, the better you’ll get to know God.

Colossians 1:13-14 (The Message)

God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating.