Start Where You Are
Faith is a peculiar possession: if you prove it, you lose it, because
the protective mystery
of God is gone, and only a sordid reality is left to be manipulated.
manipulates. That is not something we need: sick egotistical
to control God because their understanding is controlling. God protects
His integrity and our
sanity through mystery. I believe in a mysterious God who is Mysterious,
But how are we to know God? God is an elemental need in our lives like air, food or water. Believing in God as well as breathing in are needful exercises put in us by nature that prove themselves through doing. By fulfilling these needs, we know and learn about them. In Assuming air, we live; in Assuming grace, we grow; by Assuming God, we know.
What we have in those who argue they must prove God before they believe in Him is a revolt against nature. Nature is not meant to be permanently denied, and a wise person does not ultimately deny his nature. He can channel it, answer it, transform it, transfigure it, use it but in some praiseworthy way he deals with reality.
The plan of God is for nature not to be denied, but to be fulfilled by grace. In this way God is enjoyed as man is improved. That means we find a redemptive use of the needs of our natures to help ourselves and others and glorify God thereby. For whatever God has given us, He gives us free will to use for His praise and glory. (We do things to the praise of His glory. We shape things in a praise oriented way that things may be a glory to Him.)
So I advise in Christ that you do not rage and revolt against your nature, but answer your nature while using it wisely, according to whatever measurement of grace you have been given. Do not hesitate to use for enjoyment those elemental needs God has given you to enjoy, but redeem their day in doing so. (Ephesians 5:15)
Of course today some who believe themselves advanced (for being spiritually behind, unsubstantial thinkers,) argue some creeds do not nourish but sour humanity. When actual foods are not nourishing is it necessary to suggest you change foods? Can anyone have so little common sense? You do not renounce food, but change your diet. If you have enough sense to change actual foods that disagree with your needs, why not have enough sense to change spiritual food?
Renouncing your natural need for spiritual food will only make you sicker. You need some spiritual food to satisfy your elemental natural needs according to your needs. Then you find a creed or belief that answers your needs according to the stage of grace you are in.
Religion are not equal, but some are higher in grace than others, although all have some grace since to believe in God takes grace. (Now I do not speak according to full personal salvation by special grace, but according to the basic need you have in nature through common grace. By growing in grace we approach God closer, but your need may be for some grace that you may grow into more grace. You may need to go through several denominations or religions or creeds or stages of grace--like a snake sheds its skins- rising in grace.)
Start where your grace begins. Find the grace that speaks to your present needs. Find the stage of grace that speaks to you where you are now. Then leave it to the Holy Spirit to maneuver and guide you onward. I have no idea where you may begin, because I do not know where you are, but I know you should begin where you are. That is your spiritual beginning.
I began with little understanding of religion. I had only an idea, a flashlight in the dark, until the light dawned. In the day I found more light, but I thanked God for the flashlight of religion that sustained me until the light dawned and I saw more of His grace. Through following awhile the light of a little faith, I stumbled on a larger faith. I searched until there rolled around a far more illuminating reflection of God's light. Then I put away my flashlight and grinned.
The parable of "The Cave" by Plato is a Natural Law example of common grace. The light was at the front opening of the cave while darkness was in the back. Those in the cave seated facing the darkness had to be moved by degrees from the back of the cave to the front. If the people in the dark were not moved by slow degrees towards the light at the front of the cave, then they became blinded by the light. This confused and upset them. So to get people out of their darkness, they had to be moved slowly bit by bit, by small degrees, little by little, towards the light.
You must start where you are with the grace you can see, and move forward. Slowly growing in grace and spiritual knowledge is usually the way many are moved and advanced towards the light. In order not to blind the people in the dark back of the cave by sudden access to the light in front, it is necessary to move them slowly by degrees to the light. II Peter 3:18 urges us to "grow in grace."
Since grace is like light, and enlightenment is grace, light and grace usually come slowly that believers not be overwhelmed and confused. There are various means and methods of grace, some dramatic, as the conversion of Paul, some in revival, but most not overly dramatic. In a spiritual awareness coming softly as a snow falls, a new view of life around you takes place in your heart. little by little through the tender mercies of God which flake down upon us daily.
Do not worry about where you are. Do not worry about what you do not know. Begin on your pilgrimage of grace to God. If, like a snake, you have to shed several theological skins on your way, what of it? Give God the glory. Remember the words of the Apostle, "but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before me, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God." (Philippians 3:13-14)
Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.