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Choosing a path

We all need encouragement. Carrying around discouragement, doubts, and discontent is tiresome. So it is not insignificant that John 14, containing Jesus' great discourse on the Father and Holy Spirit, begins with the words, "Don't let your hearts be troubled."

The problem is our hearts are easily troubled. We all have troubles with a capital T. Pain dwells within and during difficult periods of our lives we feel consumed. Even during the good times, pain can be a next-door neighbor knocking on the door asking to come in for a visit.

The solution given in the following words are familiar. "Believe in God," Jesus says, "believe also in me." It is our beliefs that direct our heart. With the right beliefs, our hearts can steer clear of the discouragements that linger and grow within.

Everybody believes in something. Deep in our heart, we each choose something we trust to guide us, something by which we can decide which is right.

(Wait a minute, this started out happily as a discussion about encouragement and now we are getting all dark and philosophical. Well, that's where John 14 always takes me. So hang on, despite the philosophical bent to my thinking, I hope you will find some encouragement here.)

I wish we could put an end to the myth that "faith" and "reason" are two separate things. One of the main topics I hope to explore on this site is the idea that when people today talk about "reason," they are actually talking about a faith-based belief system.

Since the enlightenment supposedly "enlightened" us a few centuries ago, reason has become something to believe in. It's the age of reason after all. Even among atheists, who say they have no faith in God, it is an article of faith that human reason is the path to understanding truth. So don't contrast "faith" and "reason" as two aspects of human life; instead talk about "faith in Jesus" versus "faith in reason." We all have faith and every worldview is based on some belief.

Don't think I'm anti-reason. I think our human intellect is pretty dog-gone remarkable. At least I do when I can remember where I left my car keys. Human intellect, however, is no ultimate. It isn't infinite. It isn't infallible. In short, we aren't as smart as we think we are.

But we need to look back at John 14. There, our story continues with Jesus encouraging his followers that we have a future in the presence of the Father. The disciples aren't sure how to get there and Jesus reminds them not even Google Maps will help.

Jesus, however, reminds them in verse 6 that He is "the way, the truth, and the life." Here, the obvious way to look at these words is that Jesus is simply saying He is the way to get to the Father, He is reliable and truthful in leading us there, and He is the source of the life we need to live in the presence of the Father. It is a picture of the good news about Christ. Jesus is here, we can trust him and we can follow him to a new life.

I also think, however, there is something else we can take from Jesus' words, something related to how we are to view our core beliefs. We are to trust Jesus. He is the truth, not just that He is truthful, but He is truth.

The truth is out there (yes it is, Fox Mulder). In the post-modern age to come, the existence of truth will certainly be questioned. Until now, however, the idea of objective truth has been for the most part accepted. The question was how to find it. The core belief of the Age of Reason, accepted by faith, was that the three-and-a-half pounds of human brain we have were big enough (thank you Chris Rice) to lead us to objective truth.

Crock, I say. We are smart, but not that smart.

The truth is out there, but to get to it, we need the help of something bigger, stronger, smarter, and more infinite than we are. That's why I believe in Jesus. No one comes to the Father, except through him.