About two years ago, for a class at seminary, I wrote extensively on a passage in the Old Testament that contradicted some of my previously held political and ethical beliefs. After writing and researching extensively on these passages, I began to consider whether I could take the Bible seriously if I politically supported something so different from what the Bible said.I know all the normal justifications: the Bible was written in a different context, and I could find another passage that might justify my pre-held beliefs. But those just seemed like excuses to avoid dealing with the bigger issue. It was a minor crisis of faith. A few months later, I came face to face with this crisis of faith. I spent two weeks in countries where this issue was an everyday reality. I could no longer avoid the topic, and my previously held beliefs became inadequate. I realized that if I took my faith seriously, I had to let it transform the way I thought, the way I acted, the politics I supported, and the way I spent my money. My crisis of faith transformed me.
When was the last time a crisis of faith transformed you? The Bible is a complex book, and our faith is sometimes a complex faith. If we are not careful and deliberate, we can develop a faith so insulated that we never have to face a crisis. We only read the passages of the Bible that support the beliefs we had before we read the Bible. We only read books or listen to speakers that support and build up what we already believe. If our pastor or church challenges what we want to think, we just go find another pastor or church. We insulate ourselves from anything that challenges us or might create a crisis.
But the crucible of life has a tendency to burn away weak faith. Eventually, we all come a point where shallow, unchallenged faith fails to stand up. If we have spent our spiritual lives avoiding any challenges, times like these can destroy our faith. But if we open ourselves up to let the Holy Spirit transform us, these crises can strengthen us, build us up, and help us experience God in new ways.
Pastor Mike Slaughter often says his job is to "comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comforted." Have we become too comforted in our faith? Are we merely avoiding the tough issues? Embrace the crisis of faith. Let it transform you. Grow to know God in new ways.