Enough for Troubled Guests

My problem has never been believing that God is. It's been believing that he gives a flying chimpanzee turd about humanity in general and me in particular.

Last night I went to a local church to see "We Are Not Troubled Guests." This is a one-man play by artist Scott Erickson in which he describes an eclectic personal stew of doubt, despair and faith. Anyone who knows me will tell you it's not the way I normally interact with the world. But the relational (and often raw) way in which he presents got me engaged with the play.

Erickson sets up his doubt with in-your-face video clips of prominent atheists who view faith as believing in God without good evidence. The clips caricature faith as wishful thinking. Unfortunately much of the Church is guilty as charged with our simplistic attempts to explain "…the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Heb 11:1)." In my opinion there IS good evidence. Poke around the hard, rocky strata of first and second century documents in their cultural and historical context in the classical world and you will find it. The problem is not the evidence. It's the stuff with which the evidence is entangled.

Erickson cites his "least favorite story" in the New Testament in which Jesus is sleeping the stern of a storm-tossed boat which he shares with experienced but terrified fishermen (Mark 4:35ff). Scott weaves this into his very personal navigation of doubt.

I will call Erickson's story and raise him one. Jesus gets word that his friend Lazarus is sick (John 11:1-44). From my point of view, he fiddle farts around for two days before going to Bethany to see his friend who dies during the delay. The disciples by this time have seen a bit of the people who want to kill their teacher. Thomas, in particular, has gotten a little fatalistic about the whole thing. I completely get Mary and Martha's distress on his arrival. Where have you been?

Most of us don't like to engage at an honest level with this question. We smear God's sovereignty and Romans 8:28 around on hurting people like some topical anesthetic. Let me provide clarity by scaling the problem up for you. Lord, if you had been here, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, and Stalin would not have killed all those people.

Jesus' response to Martha and Mary was not to intervene in the inevitable progression of what was going on with their brother. He was clearly capable of intervening and everyone knew it. His response was rather to do something entirely different, something that was to be recast and scaled up to answer infinitely greater evil and suffering.

As a Christian I really do believe something quite foolish. That Jesus entered space and time, lived among us, allowed us to torture and kill him, and then cast aside death. He didn't do this to fix our bad stuff, but to meet us in the midst of that bad stuff with a promise to ultimately transform us.

The question of faith is really the question of is this enough?