perspective

The Praise of Doubt by Michael Nichols

The story about Jesus calling Peter out to walk with Him on the water is commonly used to tell people to trust God. That's kind of the point, right? But how quickly do we gloss over what's really going on there?

What Peter experienced made absolutely no sense by human standards. We are heavier than water, so we sink. Storms are huge, so how could we be expected to hold our ground within them?

The problem is not that walking on water makes no sense. Jesus is the Lord, right? All things are possible through Him! The problem is that it makes perfect sense, but we believed something else. What doesn't make sense is sin. It doesn't matter if it's the perceivably "little" white lies or the thefts or the abuses or the addictions or the perversions or the violence or the murders or the genocides. It's not just what we do, and it's not just others have done to us and each other.

The adversity for we who now live is that society tells us to question everything, and the fact is that, yes, there really is merit to skepticism, but the amount of that merit is much smaller than we think. Bear this in mind as I speak to you, though: I'm not condoning naively putting oneself in absurdly dangerous situations without a worthy cause.

As followers of Jesus, we believe that everything that we were meant to be is now working in reverse, meaning that we do not live by reason or sanity but rather by lust and psychosis. Our worldview flipped nearly instantaneously in Eden from being sustained by an omnibenevolent God to questioning whether or not His word was true and what He was holding back from us. (Now, whether or not our initial motives were pure cannot be determined, but it can be reasonably assumed that we were as guilty as lucifer of arrogance and lust for power upon temptation.) Now, we live in a world inhabited by three kinds of people: those who prey on others, those who merely try to survive, and those who think that there must be a better option than either.

Jesus is the better option. His death in our place for our sins and His resurrection overcoming the punishment for the same sin is the single most revolutionary act anyone has ever done. Had we never exposed ourselves to sin, this fact would make sense to us all. We wouldn't view the world through the murky lense of fear. The idea that there is a perfect Lord of all would not seem so idiotic, because it isn't! In fact, it makes the more sense than anything in this world! Our problem is that we base our perceptions on what we've seen and heard, and what we've seen and heard is nothing but the evil proceedings from man's heart!

So when Peter was called to walk with Jesus on the water, his lense was already murky. He already had doubts, but they didn't surface until he refocused on how many ways walking on water could possibly go wrong. In a world where man had not chosen corruption, he would have understood and not doubted that this call from Christ were absolutely possible and that it was going to happen.

The real kicker here is that Jesus didn't just call Peter out on the water; Peter asked Him to do it! He already doubted that it was Jesus on the water, but he had learned so far that Jesus had a habit of doing things that were, by human judgments, completely insane! So if Jesus called him out with Him, shouldn't he have understood that it was going to be a little crazy? Yet he doubted Him anyway! I'd bet he didn't mean to do it, but he did. How could you not when there's a hurricane raging around you, right? But Jesus is Lord of the hurricane and the water!

I dare you, reader, to ask God to do something absolutely insane with you, and even more, I dare you to trust Him to lead you in the correct way. It's our disbelief that is insane, not His sovereignty over all things, because the reality is that He is the most sane thing alive.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dy9nwe9_xzw

The Abandonment of Reason by Michael Nichols

Have you ever wondered "why"? I'm not asking a super specific question. It's simple, and it can be about anything. Why? For what reason? To what end? What are we trying to build up or tear down? What is the lesson? What are we trying to gain or give? What is the freaking point of this?

We've all asked this question, and we have every reason to ask this question. When a space is made in our minds which only understanding can fill, a desire which only wisdom can satisfy, we ask why. We attempt to make sense of things, see a picture bigger than our eyes can take in from such a close vantage point.

One of the implications of the question "why" is that you require someone to give an answer to the inquisitor. This is where things tend to become... personal. A rock generally cannot give an answer, nor can a tree, at least not when we ask questions of the soul, the heart, the mind. A rock knows nothing of pain, even if we create from it an arrowhead that can pierce flesh, bringing pain to man. The truth remains, however, that man destroys man, not arrows. Weapons are just the middlemen. It is definitely true that the accessibility of weapons tends to bring out a sense of power and aggression, but those traits are already there. They are a part of us. If we know they are there, and we know they are destructive, why release them?

The problem is simple. We don't know why things happen, so we do things to learn the answers. Sometimes, we just test the world, push it until it pushes back. Sometimes, we ask people who have already made that push and learn what makes it tick, be it a warm discovery or a cold one. Sometimes, we use other people as guinea pigs, pushing them to push the world so that we can see if they stand or fall. Sometimes, we just watch as people push each other of their own volition. Sometimes, watching gets old, and we don't want to watch anymore.

We are always just peachy with the idea of unleashing our full force upon the world in vengeance, a fit of rage toward the withholding of information and a consistent life from us, until we have to face the consequences of our actions, losing what little we had left to begin with. In a world where real treasures are hard to come by, we slowly start to realize that in chasing the past, we choke the future with a death grip caused by creating for ourselves a spiritually fatal present. Then we ask ourselves the only important question: die in love, or live in fear?

Fear is rational to the victimized. If something has been taken from you, odds are that you are looking over your shoulder, praying that someone doesn't come searching to rob you of what little sanity you may have left. Fear is logical, calculating, cold, heartless, empty, vile, selfish, hopeless, and fading. It makes sense to be afraid when you know that there are people out there looking to take what you have, and the only way you can be afraid is if you have something left that you don't want to lose. You are valuable, and you know it. If you are reading this, you have not entirely given up hope, no matter how bleak things seem. Sure, you may say that you have given up aspects of your life that you have been told or convinced through action will never come to fruition, but if you are still reading this, you know that everything awful you say you believe about yourself is a lie. There is a fire deep inside, a fire that you so desperately want to keep alive, but one that you know will burn out in time, when either your body or your soul can no longer adapt or handle the things and people it faces. That same fire is in all of us, and it is desperately gasping for breath. There is plenty of air around, and it is there for the breathing.

This, my friends, is the problem. This, my friends, is the worst part about it. Our very lives are raging flames, and they cannot be contained once they are set loose. Make no mistake: the scripture that says "our God is a consuming fire" was by no means a stretch of the imagination, and if that fire burns within us, I promise you, our entire paths will blaze. We were made to be let out. We weren't made to stop, to give up, not now, not when we have come this far.

When all the superficial things we surround ourselves with, when all the fluff and all the kindling burns away, all that remains is love, for love has the will to carry on when fear does not, and when you fall so in love with someone, or even with something like a career path, nothing will ever separate you - at least not for long, and not in the truth of your heart.

I'm not saying that you should go out and punch your neighbor in the face, get trashed, shoplift, run away, or anything like that, but quite honestly, answers only go so far. There comes a time when we see that it was true when the power behind the burning bush proclaimed, "I am that I am," and that all else tends to cease when it tries to surpass that simple fact. He is because He is. He lives and loves because He does. It is who He is, and it's how He made us to be, and He needs no other reason. Things have changed, but it's not over, and there comes a time we must face the abandonment of reason in favor of the real, and of the mere in favor of the miraculous. He left it up to us to decide for ourselves, and knew that even though not everyone would choose to love others or even Him, it would be better that they choose it that He do so for them, and I think that fact goes to prove that it is true for Him and us that in the end, we would rather die in love than live in fear.