I am not sure where the phrase “We live in a complex world” came from, but I know I have heard it most of my life. To be honest I never gave it much thought, largely because I assumed that exploring the complexities of this world would accomplish little. Also, I feared the result of my findings would leave me more depressed than ever for my children and grandchildren! Determined to set my fear aside, I began to consider one of the most important questions Christians face today: Where does faith fit in a complex world?
There are a myriad of ways people more learned than myself have tried to answer that question. My first thought was actually another question: What makes the world so complex? I appreciated the insight gained when I checked out the definition of “complex” in my old Webster’s Dictionary and found this odd little piece:
“COMPLEX suggests the unavoidable result of a necessary combining or folding and does not imply a fault or failure.”
Initially I was perplexed by what appeared to be nothing more than an odd string of words. Working it through however, I became excited as the words started to connect for me in a most interesting way! It would appear that complexity is the result of compromise (the “necessary combining or folding”) and a lack of accountability or acknowledgement of sin (“fault or failure”). I thought of Proverbs 10:19, “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” It occurred to me that far more words are required to explain away or make excuses for something than to speak the truth. I also thought about blame shifting, which began when sin entered the Garden of Eden. In Genesis 3:12 Adam’s response to God about his sin was, “The woman YOU put here with me . . . .” (Emphasis mine.) Sadly, in our self-esteem bent culture of today, blame shifting has become an art. Sin complicates; speaking truth clarifies.
So how can our faith simplify our dealings with the world around us? The answer is tied in with the strength of our faith relationship with God through Christ. One of my favorite places to go in Scripture is Hebrews chapter 11 where it talks about faith as the life blood between God and His people. In verses 1 through 3 we find faith defined with the eternal call of God’s people to respect all that He has made:
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”
I invite you to read through the rest of Chapter 11 to witness how men and women who were faithful to God dealt with the complexities of their day as they watched in faith for the promised Messiah. In verse 2 of Chapter 12 we join the saints of old as we receive the call to simple faith in Christ’s work of redemption, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith . . . .”
Maintaining a simple faith in a complex world will always be a challenge. The key to realizing it is to stay close God through His Spirit and His Word. Also, as a natural response for His provision, give thanks for His love and mercy extended to us through His Son.
All to His Glory!