Today’s author is Prince of Peace member, Gary Olson.

Photo by Worshae on Unsplash

Why do we believe what we believe? How is it we have come to believe? Martin Luther  writes this: “I believe I cannot by my own understanding or effort believe in Jesus  Christ my Lord, or come to him. But the Holy Spirit has called me through the  Gospel….” (Small Catechism). In my view, the Holy Spirit is the presence of God in  creation and as near as our breath. Still, how is God at work helping us believe? 

The Apostle Paul writes it: “For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn  had received:….” Then he states the essence of God’s Good News as he sees it—that  Jesus was crucified, died, was buried, was raised, “and that he appeared,” to followers  including Paul (Acts 9). Paul does not write about the empty tomb. He writes about  Jesus’ appearances as compelling evidence that Jesus is alive. 

Paul is upset, frustrated. He, assisted by fellow tentmakers Aquila and Priscilla, did the  good and hard work of evangelism in Corinth: teaching and preaching the love and  grace of God in Jesus and Jesus’ resurrection; gathering a community of believers.  Paul moved on to other cities. Then he got word that there was trouble in Corinth.  Some were doubting that Jesus was raised from the dead and therefore doubting that  they would be raised. Paul was angry. He decided to make a return visit to correct what  was going wrong in Corinth. But first, he writes to them: “…how can some of you say  there is no resurrection of the dead?” They haven’t believed him. They haven’t trusted him. 

How is it you and I have come to believe? We have trusted the witnesses. We have believed those who saw Jesus after he was raised. We have to trust the witnesses  starting with the first apostles through Paul and to today—all who have “handed on to  (us) what (they) in turn have received.” 

My Father, raised in Sunday School, confirmation and worship, did not trust the  witnesses. He was skeptical about the existence of God. He was very skeptical about  Jesus being raised from the dead. Dad would have been among those at Corinth who  didn’t believe. On the other hand, my Dad’s Mother, my Grandmother, who was like a  mother to me, was a believer. She, along with my Mom, nurtured me in the faith. They  read stories from the Bible, taught me to read the Bible, brought me to worship.

They taught me to trust God and to trust that what God did in Jesus is true. They were  people of grace in my life. They brought God to life for me. I trusted them. I trusted the  witnesses. I am thankful for them. They launched me on this mysterious adventure of  faith. 

My Dad didn’t argue. Of course, I rarely saw him but I knew his skepticism. He was  silent about it all. Many years passed. Two weeks before my Dad’s death I visited him  at his home in Oregon. He asked me, “Do you really think there is a God?” “Yes,” I said,  “and I believe God loves you very much.” “I hope so,” was his reply. That’s as close as  we ever got to a theological conversation.  

A.N. Whitehead (Process and Reality, p 346) writes about the presence of God in the world as having a “tenderness  which loses nothing that can be saved.” I pray with confidence that is true for you, me and my Dad. In Christ Jesus’ name. Amen.