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To Believe Is to Give Your Heart

This is a column for skeptics. If you are secure in your faith, I won’t have anything to offer you this time. If you are sitting on the outside of religion looking in thinking that a church might have something to offer, but in the back of your mind, you still wonder if faith isn’t just an anesthetic for the gullible.

            First, you should know that I am convinced that rational arguments can be made for faith. I just won’t be making them in this particular column. If you wonder about why God allows suffering, how science and religion fit together, or why Christianity is so convinced that other religions are wrong and they are right, there is much that can be said. If you wonder about the history of a man named Jesus from a little town in Galilee, then we could look at historical sources and have a lot to say about what we know.

            Yet, in the end, I have to be honest and say once all the obstacles to faith have been removed, there is still that last step. What is sometimes called the leap of faith. If you try to be a rational, logical person, as I do, then you may find that last step harder than all the ones leading up to it.

            It is so difficult to say “I believe.” Can I really say I believe in the Virgin birth or in the bodily resurrection of Jesus, when I just can’t run the proper tests under controlled circumstances? Why do I have to believe those things I can’t prove?

            It may help you, as it has me, to understand the shortcomings of our word believe. I prefer the more ancient word found in our creeds. It is the word, “Credo” (pronounced kray-doh) from which we get our word creed. Credo is a verb form of the noun for heart. Credo means “I heart” rather than “I believe.” A creed tells the things your heart knows rather than the things your head knows.

            In the creeds of the ancient Christian church, we do not read, “I know with a certainty that Jesus mother was a virgin.” Instead, we read, “I heart the virgin birth.” Some things your heart knows that your head just can’t quite prove.

            For a man to look into the eyes of the woman he loves may tell his heart that he is looking at the most beautiful woman who has ever lived. When a woman looks into the eyes of her child, her heart tells her that this is the most precious part of God’s creation. These matters of the heart are not rational knowledge, but that’s OK, when you give your heart to someone, you don’t always have to do the math to prove the logic of it.

            The French Philosopher and Mathematician Blaise Pascal knew this. He lived at the beginning of the Age of Reason and wrote, “The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of.” Your heart may have strong reasons for faith that your mind just can’t prove. That’s because God’s spirit is speaking to your spirit.

            If you open your mind to God, then there are wonderful ways in which God can clear rational, logical obstacles to faith. But once the roadblocks have been cleared, you will not yet have a relationship with God. For that, you must open up your heart and say something to the affect of, “Jesus, I give you my life, forgive me of all the ways I have disappointed you and open my eyes to following you each day.”

            That last step to actually believing that God exists and God cares for you is more a matter of the heart than of the mind alone. You may have some head knowledge getting in the way of having a relationship with God. That’s OK. You and God can work on that together. But how about your heart? There may be many things you can say that your heart knows, that you can’t yet prove with logic alone.

            Try Credo. Try giving your heart. And if there are some parts of the Christian faith you are not quite ready to swallow whole, then remember that the creeds of the church were written in the plural. We say “we believe.” If there are some parts that you don’t yet believe, then truthfully say we believe them. Let the rest of us supply a little faith to get you started.

The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 34, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Give it a try and you will find that the leap of faith was not such a leap after all. As you take those first steps you will find that you have more reasons to give your heart to God all the time.

(The Rev. Frank Logue is pastor of King of Peace Episcopal Church in Kingsland.)

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