Growing up I felt like I was all on my own. Despite having a loving and warm family my overall prioritized context, school, said otherwise. From the 1st grade, I was constantly picked up and bullied. I would be called names, I would get beaten up, and have my stuff constantly stolen or destroyed. As far as I could tell it was not because of anything I had said or done, it seemingly was just for being me, for existing. This taught me early on that the world was not concerned for the individual and was not going to get any easier.
Fast forward to my high school career and I was extremely discouraged and sad; to the point of being depressed. I had learned to keep all of this to myself because I did not want to give anyone more reason to attack me. This was my reality.
The other side of things was my regular exposure to church. My family practically lived in the church going every day of the week. My father had to stay till the very end sometimes even outlasting the pastors! The message of the church was very different from my reality. Where I felt nothing but hurt, pain, and hate I heard only of this love, joy, and peace that comes from God...and yet I felt like I never experienced it so how could it be true? I rationalized that I must not be doing it right otherwise I would see better results.
My reality causes me to see the Bible and God in such a different perspective. John 3:16 where it says "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." Where others found great comfort and elation in this passage I did not feel it and so would take a twisted interpretation. In my life I did not feel wanted and so applied the same to God. God does not break promises so in the verse where it would say "God loved the world" that HAD to include me, not because He wanted to but because I happen to be a part of the whole world. I felt like a burden and a formality to the ones that did truly love me.
Fast forward a few more years and I was emotionally and physically exhausted by how I have had to go around "living" my life. It was not till I went to a large youth conference that I finally encountered this God of restoration and this God of provision, this God of the love, joy, and peace I saw other people have. Without going into all the details I will say that I credit my ability to finally hear God due to my admitting my current hypothesis in life was a failure and I need to scrap it and start over.
The scientific method that we mentioned on Sunday was found in 5 steps
1. Define a Question to Investigate
2. Make a Prediction
3. Gather Data.
4. Analyze the Data
5. Draw Conclusions
The scientific method can be applied to our faith journey if you think about it. Before we come to a knowledge and acceptance of Jesus Christ we run an experiment, the same experiment that all men have done since Adam and Eve. The environment will tell us and we have a natural lean to thinking we are on our own, that we are the masters of our own destiny and the center of the universe. So for me perhaps you try and define the question of "How do you live?"
2. The Prediction is almost unanimous, "I am on my own" or "look out for yourself" is the most effective way to be successful or happy.
3. However the data we gather is not usually ideal or favorable. The data will say that you cannot stop, you cannot keep climbing, you cannot rest for a moment or someone is out to get you, your job, your position, your "happiness"
4. Analyzing that data will tell you that this is not sustainable.
5. In a perfect world, you will come to the conclusion that this experiment of "Being your own God" was a flop. That you need to scrap this and try again with a different prediction. That is going to require the antithesis of our pride to admit that we cannot do it on our own. That antithesis is humility.
Being humble or having humility is often misdefined. We think of being humble as reducing ourselves and seeing others as better than us. But the way I have come to define being humble is not thinking less of yourselves but thinking of ourselves less.
When we take another crack at the experiment of life but this time laying down the pride of having to get ahead of others, being in charge, and having the willingness to hear from a great source (God) the data we gather and analyze can help us conclude the thing we have wanted most in life (to be loved and seen) has been offered to us freely.
Church it is time to run the faith experiment! My prediction is that if you allow God to be the one you listen to then you will gather His immense love.
What does this look like for us?
If we can "successfully" run this experiment of faith the results will speak for themselves and be able to be presented to the public so that they too hopefully will embark on the same journey.