Tag Archive for Mommy and Daddy

Doubt: Part 9–Skepticism

 

Although I have made it quite clear on this blog that I am a Christian, it might surprise you to learn that I am also a natural skeptic.  To get an idea of how that all started for me, let me take you back to the second grade.

 

So there I was in Sunday school at St. Mary’s at the age of seven.  I still believed in Mommy and Daddy, but had learned enough about the world to know that not everything people told you was true.

 

So then, the teacher gives the first lesson about God, the Daddy who was actually all knowing, all seeing and all-powerful.  The vocabulary word for that day was “omnipotent,” with which my seven-year-old tongue was having some difficulties.

 

Now wait a minute, I thought.  Not only are you going to tell me that there’s this God I can’t even see, but you are also going to tell me that he’s stronger than my parents are?  Not only that, but he’s stronger than Batman, Superman and the whole Justice League of America and the Avengers COMBINED?

 

There in that classroom, I had my first I’ll-believe-it-when-I-see-it moment, the first step of my intellectual maturity moving ahead of my spiritual maturity.  So I asked a question as intellectually mature as my 2nd-grade mind could muster.

 

“If God’s so strong that he can do anything, can he knock that clock off the wall?”

 

Now imagine the possibilities here.  I’m in SUNDAY SCHOOL!  In the presence of a TEACHER!  Who better to give me the spiritual knowledge, direction and guidance I needed to keep my spiritual maturity in step with my intellectual maturity?  It wouldn’t take long to explain at a seven-year-old’s level the difference between God’s power and God’s will.  Heck, I would have been happy with a simple yes or no!

 

But it didn’t happen that way.

 

Instead, I got the scowl of ultimate shame and a note home to my parents for my impertinence.

 

And no answer to my question.

 

Which made me wonder what other questions didn’t have answers.

 

And a skeptic was born.

 

Fast-forward 13 years.  That’s how long I had been feeding the skepticism.  If you do that long enough, you lose the distinction between doubt and belief, and doubt becomes your belief. 

 

So I didn’t believe in anything beyond what I could see or what I could do.  I allowed myself to believe the worldly lie that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to.  In my first two years of college, the strategy of a skeptic appeared to be working for me.

 

But then in October 1989, I found myself in that cemetery, watching my last shred of what I thought I knew about life wither and blow away.

 

Then the sun came out from behind a cloud, and I believed in God for the first time.

 

But this isn’t the happy ending.

 

(For what happened next, come back for Part 10–Religion)

 

Doubt: Part 4–Faith

 

“I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  (Mark 10:15 NIV)

 

Responding to God requires seeing things as they really are, even the part you can’t see (especially the part you can’t see), the way children do.

 

A child doesn’t worry about the same things an adult does.  Children trust that their parents are all knowing, all seeing and all-powerful.  Even though that isn’t really true, they believe.  In that belief, they feel safe and comforted.  This is what “faith like a child” means.

 

Now some might call this “blind faith,” since the children are believing something without questioning it and accepting as real something that isn’t.  However, nobody condemns children for believing in their parents.  Indeed, if children see a parent fail at too early an age, it can be devastating to their emotional health. This is because they are not yet intellectually developed enough to understand their own limitations.

 

Therefore, it never occurs to them that their parents might be finite, that their knowledge might be incomplete, that they can be taken by surprise, that they might fail, that they might just. . .not. . .know.

 

No, nobody would condemn that child for believing in Mommy and Daddy.  After all, they are children and do not know any better.  As they grow, their understanding of the world around them grows. Eventually, they figure out that Mommy and Daddy are people just like them.  And later, when they become the Mommy or Daddy, they really figure out how much their parents didn’t know.

 

 

So why are people condemned for responding to God with the faith of a child, when that is exactly how Jesus said to do it?

Well for starters, people who don’t know the Bible don’t know that’s how it is supposed to be done, and you can’t condemn them for simply not knowing.

 

More significantly, these people don’t know that your spirit does not necessarily grow at the same rate that your body and mind do.  In other words, that faith like a child does not mean intellect like a child.

 

Different ways of growing up

 

Children are going to grow older and taller without any effort on their part.  Physical maturity just happens (at least, to whatever extent anything just happens).

 

Mental maturity requires some input, however.  Children kept locked in a closet all their lives will still grow physically, but they won’t learn much.  To learn, you have to be exposed to knowledge.  As you get older and start thinking for yourself more, you become more skeptical of “knowledge.” You may doubt some things just because they “don’t sound right.”

 

Spiritual maturity, on the other hand, is a major workout.  Absolutely nothing will happen to your spiritual maturity unless you make it happen.  If you don’t, then even as your body grows, and your mind expands, you will still remain a spiritual infant.

 

(So how do you start on the path to spiritual maturity?  Come back for Part 5–Real/Not Real.)