If you’ve never heard that before, or something that basically means the same thing, I would guess that you either haven’t been a Christian for very long or are not one now. That is probably one of the most common things I hear with regards to understanding the Christian faith.
Often, I’ve heard non-believers respond to this, derisively, with something like, “Oh, just believe and then I’ll believe? That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard!” If you hear this from someone, please correct them. Nicely. It is not “believe and you will believe.” It is, “believe and you will understand.”
For many people, that’s not really very helpful just as it is. Whichever way you say it, it just doesn’t seem to add up. It still seems somewhat circular in reasoning. So, how can we rationalize this without sacrificing our intellectual integrity? Perhaps if we were to take it out of the theological context and put it in a completely different context, it will make more sense to more people.
For those who don’t know me, I’m a geek. I’ve been a geek for as long as I can remember. You know the kind. The one who works on computers and understands how they work and how to fix them. But it’s worse than that. Not only was I good in high school at computers and math and science. I would actually sit in the cafeteria at lunch with a blank sheet of paper, write out a long equation (usually with various exponential values attached to variables) and “solve for x.”
I was that bad. That was fun for me. I know. Like I said. Geek.
I say all that to point something out. Back in high school, when I was taking classes in algebra and geometry and trigonometry, etc., other students would often say things like, “How can x equal two different things? That doesn’t make any sense!” But, when I looked at an equation where the variable, usually x, was raised to the second power (or “squared”), I automatically knew that x would have two values.
I got that. It was clear. It was perfectly easy to understand. No worries about it being contradictory or nonsensical. I understood that because I understood the underlying mathematical theorem’s that made it possible. Because the foundational principles and laws of mathematics were known and trusted (i.e. I believed them), then it was quite easy for me to understand that x = 2 AND x = -7 were both correct. And, that there were no other values for x that would be valid in that equation.
It was because I trusted the theorems to be true. I learned why they were true later. But at the time, I knew that the fundamental basics and logic of mathematics were true. As such, when faced with such equations that one might have to use the quadratic equation to solve, it was clear to me that I would end up with two valid solutions.
The same thing is true with regards to Christianity. If you don’t believe in God or Jesus or the Bible, then you’ll be like the person who was saying, “How can x equal two different things?” But, if you have faith (trust) that God does exist and that the Bible is His Word, it makes a great deal more sense.
The hard part is, getting someone to understand that, without that initial belief, it’s never going to make sense. And those people will constantly be stuck putting the cart before the horse and shaking their fists saying, “I will believe if I can only understand it.”
I’m sorry to tell you, it doesn’t work that way. Like the laws of mathematics, you won’t understand until you believe.
What are some other things that you have to believe/trust/have faith in before you can understand them?
Grace, love and peace.