Locus of Faith

Here’s a little piece from Christian Flash Weekly #52, the prompt for which was from Mark 9: 23: “And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can!’ All things are possible for one who believes.”

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Thomas plopped down and said, “Forgive me Father for I have sinned.”

“And what do you have to confess my son?”

“Father, I have lost my faith. I no longer believe.”

“Aha.” The old confessional creaked.  “I see. And why, my son, do you think you’ve lost your faith?”

“I’ve been reading the gospels closely, Father. And they just don’t make sense.”

“And how is that my son?”

“First off, I mean who showed up to the Lord’s birth? Shepherds or Magi? Matthew, Mark, and Luke say Jesus died on Passover. John says he died the day before. It seems pretty important, doesn’t it? I mean if Jesus is supposed to have died for our sins, you’d think they’d agree on that point…Get their stories straight.”

“I understand my son. I too wrestled with such when I was younger, but then I learned.”

“Learned what Father?”

“That the gospels are stories, my son. They are the stories of people’s experience of the Lord. They aren’t biographies. Each author has his own experience, his own story to tell. You like to go out with your friends on the weekend right?”

“Of course.”

“Now tell me, when you return to school on Monday and your classmates ask you what you did Saturday night you tell them right?”

“Yes.”

“On Sunday morning your mom probably asks you what you did, right?”

“Yes.”

“Do you tell your friends and your mother the same things?”

“Not exactly.”

Father Patrick chuckled under his breath. “No I’m sure you don’t. You might—how do I put it—edit out certain things for your mother, am I right?”

“Yes.”

“Do you lie to your mother?”

“No. I might not tell her everything, but I don’t lie.”

“Right. You tell your friends one story, your mother another. But they are both true.”

“Yes Father.”

“See? You are telling stories of your experience. Which story you tell depends on the audience. You could say the same about the Gospels.”

“Oh.” A slight smile graced Thomas’s smile. “I never thought of it that way.”

“But that doesn’t really help you now does it?”

“No, Father, it doesn’t. I don’t want to lose my faith, but I am…doubtful.”

“Doubtful about what?”

“Well, a lot of it really. The Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, just to name a few.”

Father Patrick laughed. “Only two of the most important cornerstones of the faith, no?” He paused, and again the confessional creaked. “Tell me my son, who are your heroes?”

“Mostly athletes I guess.”

“Of course, of course. Athletes like who?”

“Lebron I guess.”

“Now tell me, when the Cavs are down and the game is on the line, who is their go to guy?”

“Lebron.”

“His team believes in him, the fans believe in him, right?”

“Sure.”

“What do you think that means, believe in him?”

“That they trust him to score.”

“And what do people say of our Lord Jesus Christ?”

“To believe in him.”

“Right, because as Mark 9:23 says, ‘Everything is possible to one who has faith.’ When you put the ball into Lebron’s hands anything is possible right? How many game winning shots has he made?”

“Lots I guess.”

“Now do you think when people say ‘believe in Lebron James’ it is the same as saying ‘believe in Jesus?’”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because Lebron is not God.”

Father Patrick belted out a good, hearty laugh. “According to some people he is!” The confessional groaned. “But why do you think people say to believe in him?”

“Because he wins games.”

“His actions speak, in other words.”

“Yes Father.”

“Now our Lord Jesus Christ acted and he spoke to people. What did he tell them? What did he tell them to be like?”

Thomas answered.

“To who?”

“Everyone.”

“Why?”

“Because that’s what God did.”

“Does.”

“Does.”

“What do you think believe in Jesus or place your faith in him means?”

“To believe he is God.”

“Is that what it means to believe in Lebron?”

“No.”

“So maybe those answers you gave me—loving everyone, being kind and gentle, serving others, showing compassion and mercy—are the clue. Do you think those are good ways to live? Can you put your faith in that?”


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