To be a Christian means to believe in the ridiculous. Of course one who is a Christian does not see belief like this. They view the ridiculous as normalcy and, in turn, the world views them with contempt for their sheer lunacy.
Abraham, that champion of faith, was chief of the ridiculous lunatics.
"… he stood there, the old man with his only hope! But he did not doubt, he did not look in anguish to the left or right, he did not challenge heaven with his prayers. He knew it was God the Almighty that tried him, he knew it was the hardest sacrifice that could be demanded of him; but he also knew that no sacrifice was too hard when God demanded it—and he drew his knife."
We stand daily in the light of certain ridiculousness—a paradoxical combination of certitude and unknowing. The writer of Hebrews spells it out for us.
"The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see." (Hebrews 11:1, The Message)
As one on the inside of ridiculousness, I view belief and faith in the same light. The world, however, views belief as separate from faith. Faith to the world is radical adherence to religious dogma and belief is that aspect of faith, which moves a person from onlooker to participant. The world views the holding of beliefs as helpful, but not as true.
How do you view belief? Faith? Is your Christian perspective founded upon what Kierkegaard refers to as a “remote possibility?”
Or do you live daily like Abraham, drawing your knife?
Our daily vision for work and life will either soar or flail depending on the veracity of your belief. Do you live like it is true, or merely helpful—a crutch to get you through the muck of life?
Once you and I pass over into the land of belief, action predicated on doubt is no longer an option. “Abraham had faith and did not doubt. He believed the ridiculous.”
*Exerpts and ideas from this piece were drawn from Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling and C.S. Lewis’s essay “Man or Rabbit,” which you can find in the collection God In The Dock. I’d also like to thank the mystery writer of Hebrews for writing one of my favorites books of Holy Scripture.
Timothy Willard loves to sit with his wife by the bonfire and make up stories about Tom the Backyard-Badger for his three lovely daughters. When he's not carving up the Appalachian Mountains on his Salsa El Mariachi, you can find him busy writing a book, collaborating on a book, or reading a book written by someone dead and gone. Timothy studied beauty in the works of C.S. Lewis under theologian Alister McGrath. The author of five books, including Veneer: Living Deeply in a Surface Society (Zondervan), Timothy is currently finishing The Life-Changing Adventure of Chasing Beauty (Eerdmans, 2019), preparing his doctoral thesis for publication, and trying to find a publisher for his first novel The Tempest and the Bloom. He lives somewhere in the south Charlotte woods.