I wonder how important reasons are? Let’s say I want to go and get ice cream. Mary might say, “John, I think you shouldn’t go and get ice cream because you’ve been complaning about your sympathy weight a lot recently. Eating ice won’t help you lose that excess weight.” This would be a good reason not to go and get ice cream. However, she could just as persuasively argue, “John, you really struggle to enjoy life. You are such a task-oriented person. I think taking a break to get some ice cream might really do you some good.” This would also be a good reason, but advocating an different course of action.
This is a simple example. My point is only that good reasons can be found for opposing actions. This is magnified when we considered more complicated situations like faith.
Why is ministry so hard?
Should I go on a missions trip?
God why don’t you heal my sickness?
Why do so many missionaries leave the field?
The more I turn to reasons to justify my actions, the more confused I seem to get. I go back and forth between callings, philosophies on spiritual disciplines, purpose and more. I have been a little bit frustrated and feeling a little hopeless.
Then, yesterday I read this from Kierkegaard’s “For Self-Examination” (he is talking about some who have doubted the Ascension, which stands for the supernatural in Christianity or really faith altogether, and how to overcome that doubt):
“So some have doubted. But then in turn there were some who sought to refute doubt with reasons. As a matter of fact the connection was actually this: first of all they tried to demonstrate the truth of Christianity with reasons or by advancing reasons in relation to Christianity. And these reasons fostereed doubt and doubt became the stronger. The demonstration of Chrsitianity really lies in imitation. This was taken away. Then the need for “reasons” was felt, but these reasons, or that there are reasons, are already a kind of doubt–and thus doubt arose and lived on reasons. It was not observed that the more reasons one advances, the more one nourishes doubt and the stronger it becomes, that offereing doubt reasons in order to kill it is just like offering the tasty food it likes best of all to a hungry monster one wishes to eliminate. No, one must not offer reasons to doubt–at least not if one’s intention is to kill it–but one must do as Luther did, order it to shut its mouth, and to that end keep quit and offer no reasons.
But those whose lives are marked by imitation have not doubted teh Ascension. And why not? In the first place, because their lives were too strenuous…And the imitators truly needed his Ascension in order to endure the life they were leading–and therefore it is certain (emphasis mine). But someone who sits in idleness and ease through good days or is busily astir in busyness from morning to night but has never suffered anything for the sake of truth actually has no need. It is rather something he imagines or something he lets himself imagine for money; he concerns himself with this Ascension more as a curiosity–and so, of course, he doubts, since he has no need(emphasis mine); or he invents some reasons…”
And so I find my answer: imitatio Christi. My life will be found when I lose it. My path will be straight and true when I am walking on the narrow path of suffering. My certainty will follow when my obedience leads me into the hard places of the faith–places where I have need of my faith and need of Christ.
In my pursuit of Reason, I’m abandoning my reason and taking up imitation.