Material vs Supernatural

I’ve never felt the cold of Siberia. I’ve never climbed Kilimanjaro. I’ve never white water rafted down the Colorado River (but I have shot rapids on the Arkansas River in Colorado!). I trust that the stories I’ve heard and the pictures I’ve seen are real. I put faith in the people who have recorded these things and reported them to me. I’ve never actually experienced them for myself.

Just being alive takes faith. 

Believing that my next breath will have enough oxygen for my to survive or that my next bite of food isn’t poisoned is an act of faith. In this way, everyone has faith. Everyone puts their faith into something.

Increasingly, people are only putting their faith in things they can experience. It seems that even people of Christian faith would prefer to only believe in a radically material Christianity. For the materialist, Jesus is just human and the miracles of the scriptures (and the last 2000 years) can all be explained away with “natural” explanations. 

But the truth is that this material faith isn’t Christianity at all. No matter how you slice it, Christianity is a supernatural faith. That doesn’t mean we don’t believe in rational thought, nor does it mean that everything that seems to be weird or out of the ordinary is supernatural. But to follow Jesus and to believe in what he teaches is to believe in the supernatural. 

In the gospel this Sunday, Jesus proclaims that his mission is coming to an end and it is time to glorify God on the cross. Jesus laments the suffering he is about to endure, but still assents to the will of the Father. With that, a booming voice from heavens proclaims that He glorifies and will glorify.

Those who heard the voice tried to explain it away. Some said it was thunder. Others said it was an angel. While both are common ways to represent God speaking to humanity, at its root, this represents an effort to explain away a supernatural event using natural means.

Many do this same action with every single miracle of the New Testament. Thomas Jefferson had a version of the Bible where he had all the miracles and supernatural things cut out so that only the sayings of Jesus remained. 

This way of understanding Christianity and Jesus is dangerous because it isn’t true. Removing the supernatural from Christianity is wrong not only because it is an inaccurate representation of what Christianity really teaches, but also because it makes it easy to interpret Christianity as simply a lifestyle choice.

Christianity isn’t a lifestyle choice. Following Jesus is the way to survive death and be happy forever. Following Jesus Christ isn’t a nice way to get through life, but it is the greatest of joys that totally and completely changes everything about what it means to be alive. 

LIVE IT: Tonight turn off all the lights in your room, get down on your knees and pray, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24). Pray it until you mean it. 

Sunday Readings for March 21st, 2021.

What’s your slogan?

March 11th, Sunday Readings.

Billboard

 

When I was kid, I was a  Boy Scout. This was back in the day with the full on uniforms,
the high socks, the pocket knifes, and strict commitment to building a bigger fire than the troup next door. We had a number of dads who were leaders (my father being our Scout Master). One of our leaders was the king of the dad joke and his favorite was a simple question and answer that always elicited an eye roll or a confused look.

Dad: Hey scout, do you know why I can’t wait for tomorrow?

Scout: Why, sir?

Dad: Because I get better looking every day. Bwwaahhahahahh. 

He told this joke so often that it kind of became his personal slogan. It because what he was known for. In some small ways, it even formed how he lived, he was a joyful and eternally optimistic person. Even though he joked about looking forward to tomorrow, he really did look forward to each new day.

Do you have a slogan? Do you have a statement or phrase that helps both explain who you are and, as the same time, form your decision making? We might think of a slogan as shallow marketing, but what if we really lived by them?

If Christianity had a slogan, John 3:16, which is our gospel this Sunday, might just be it. At the core of our faith is Jesus Christ. The central story of our faith is that God loves us so much that sent his only son, Jesus Christ, to die for us so that death is conquered and we can live forever with God.

This basic story of our faith has a greek name – Kerygma. Pope Francis says this about the Kerygma:

We must not think that in catechesis the kerygma gives way to a supposedly more “solid” formation. Nothing is more solid, profound, secure, meaningful and wisdom-filled than that initial proclamation…It is the message capable of responding to the desire for the infinite which abides in every human heart. – Joy of the Gospel 165

What would change if this was your slogan? What if the central message of Christianity what you lived your life by? What if every decision, actions, even thought was made in light of Jesus on the cross?

LIVE IT:
Write a slogan for yourself! Write a simple, short slogan that explains who you are and helps you form how you live your life. Try it out for a week and revisit it. Edit as needed.