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In order to set up some background, I need permission to be narcissistic for a moment. Okay, here it goes. I am smart. It’s one of few things I know, and rarely doubt. I haven’t received a Mensa invitation, but I know I have an uncanny ability to comprehend complex concepts that don’t come so easily to most. While other children might have been hearing “you’re so special,” “you’re so pretty,” or “you’re so cool,” I was hearing, “oh, he’s so smart, so advanced!”
Intelligence is part of my identity. I’m known for it and, to an extent, it defines me. I’m thankful for it, but it seems to have a downside. I’ve long held that I had the ability to reason my way out of my faith. I think the two may be mutually exclusive.
So I’ve more or less decided that the people who have the strongest faith are able to excel spiritually because they’re just simpler people. They don’t make everything complex the way I do. (And I indeed do that.) They accept things, and feel less need to cross-examine. They have less questions, take less exceptions, and make fewer objections.
If Jesus said faith can pick a mountain up and hurl it into the sea (Mark 11:23), that is what they believe. If Jesus said those who believe in him will do even greater works than Jesus did (John 14:12), that is what they believe. If Jesus says to gouge out your right eye if it causes you to sin (Matthew 5:29)… they may raise an eyebrow and give pause. But they’ll still keep a sharpened stick close by, just in case.
My agnostic friends call this ”drinking the Kool-Aid,” but I don’t think it’s as wackadoo as they make it out to be. Maybe the way I’m mentally gifted, some people are spiritually gifted. The same way I see certain concepts and intuitively understand them, they instinctively know how to live in, interpret, and move through the systems God has set up in the Bible. It must be, because if I ask them to break down spiritual things to me, I don’t entirely grasp the pieces even then. Perhaps puffing my chest about my intellect only exposes my lack of faith.
By the time I was 4 or 5, they had to drop the ruse that Santa Claus was bringing Christmas presents. It sounded nice, but I knew we kept a log burning in our fireplace. Therefore, no obese, elderly gentleman lugging a sack of big boxes was getting down our narrow chimney without incident.
Today, if you tell me fasting, praying, and casting demons out of people will cure cancer, repair marriages, and sober up drug addicts, I’ll want to believe, yet still question the likelihood that God will do it. If I was full of faith, I’d just wait in content expectancy for God to work whenever and however he chooses.
Instead, I’m full of reason, full of logic, and therefore full of worry and deep concern. There’s a reservation and lack of trust for every prayer that felt unanswered like there once was a long face for every present Santa didn’t bring. This is why I feel intellect and reasoning undermine my ability to operate as a man of faith.
Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6), but if this analytical nature opposes faith, why would God have sent me through the birth canal with it already hardwired in? Surely he knew I’d start trying to use it on him and his precepts.
“Give a small boy a hammer and he will find that everything he encounters needs pounding.” —Kalan
Is the gift of intellect a riddle? Does God want me to figure out when to use it and when to turn it off? But wouldn’t it seem counterproductive to turn off a mental process in order to get something done? Is that what it comes to? Is my ability to reason gonna shoot Jesus in the foot? If I ask too many questions, is that gonna blow my chance to get into Heaven?
What say you? Can I be smart and wholeheartedly believe in Christ? Or do you think one will eventually stomp out the other?
- For Believers Who Have Considered Apostasy When Faith Isn’t Enuf(junkyardsalvation.com)
- What Exactly Is Child Like Faith?(bburleson.wordpress.com)
- The opposite of faith is … certainty?(anoigmatic.wordpress.com)
- Spiritual Gifts (achristianmeditation.wordpress.com)