09 Feb Why is it so hard to believe?
Posted at 20:45h in blog
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. –Luke 1.1-4
There are a lot of crazy moments in the New Testament. When you read them, they make you think to yourself If I ever saw that, faith would be a breeze. What if you could actually hear Jesus tell Lazarus to get up from the grave…and then hear the crowd say ‘But Lord, he stinketh’? What if you could have seen the Transfiguration, the Gospel’s 4th of July light show? What if you had stood there when he floated on up into heaven like some kind of angelic drone? Don’t you think you would just feel full? Strong? Like someone had fed you?
A few years ago, I got to hear Ravi Zacharias at the College of William & Mary. He gave a whole talk that night about… well… I have to admit I don’t really remember what he talked about, but I do remember the Q&A that followed the lecture! For the last question of the evening an older woman, maybe in her late 60’s, stood up and asked, “Mr. Zacharias, when you get to heaven, what is the first question you are going to ask God?”
“Why did the Indians get the best cuisine in the world?” He chuckled. Important detail: Ravi is Indian. “But in all seriousness, when I get to heaven the question I am going to want to ask God, is why is it so hard to believe?” A nodding sigh of commiseration washed over the room.
Why is it so hard to believe? If the thought bothers someone like Ravi Zacharias, someone whose whole life is about traveling to share the knowledge of God, it probably bothers us too. Does the thought every cross your mind: why is it so hard to believe? Or maybe, why is it so hard to believe this week? I think that is the very same question behind Luke’s introduction to his gospel, his dedication to Theophilus.
Theophilus means ‘Lover of God.’ No one knows if there was actually a real person named Theophilus, but I do not think it really matter whether there was or not. I know plenty of Theophiloi myself, lovers of God. I think that Luke writes to Theophilus for the very same reason that we, the Theophiloi, read his gospel: that you might have certainty. When Theophilus needed some certainty, Dr. Luke sent him a book.
Sometimes what our faith does not need is the crazy stuff, the wonders and the miracles. We will need them at some point—they were, after all, a big part of Jesus’ ministry. But sometimes what we really need is just to hear someone else talk to us about Jesus again, to give us just a kernel of the gospel, to give us a crust off the loaf of eternal life. Sometimes I think we just need a word. That, evidently, is what Theophilus needed that he might have certainty concerning the things he had been taught.