Samantha came home from a date, rather sad.
She told her mother, “David proposed to me an hour ago.”
“Then why are you so sad?” her mother asked.
“Because he also told me he is an atheist. Mom, he doesn’t even believe there’s a Hell.”
“Marry him anyway,” mom replied. “Between the two of us, we’ll show him how wrong he is.”
There have been many who have been proven wrong on some very large scales:
In 1934, the president of IBM said, “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” And in 1977, the founder of DEC said, “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” On that same note, in 1966 it was predicted that remote shopping (online shopping) would flop because “women like to get out of the house, like to handle the merchandise, like to be able to change their minds.” Hello, Amazon. In 1876, the telephone was said to have “too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication” and as late as 1981 it was predicted that cell phones would absolutely not replace landlines. The list goes on. In many respects, it seems that making a prediction or stating what you consider to be a truth is a bit like daring someone to prove you wrong… and there are more than enough folks who will take you up on the dare. The same is true with our faith. How so?
Today, we will say the Nicene Creed: “I believe in God, the Father Almighty…”, then we will say the Confession and receive the absolution that is promised by God, and a bit later we will receive the Body and the Blood of Christ, food for the soul and for our salvation; we will speak all these things that are truths, and in doing so, we are daring the devil and the world to prove those truths wrong. And you know what? The devil and the world go to work on us immediately. No sooner have we walked out the doors, than they both go on full assault.
It can begin by the insertion of events that may not cause you to full on doubt, but that do rob you of a little bit of peace that you experienced while here. It can come in the form of small questions to what we believe: “Ya know, that ‘born of the Virgin Mary’ business seems just a bit too far fetched. It’s nice at Christmas, but… eh.” Then we run up against some of the bigger problems: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” “Good… all except for Bob, because God and all the angels know that Bob is unforgivable.” And then there is the one that trips most everyone up: “Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you all your sins….” Absolution of our sins. We can never really believe that one.
You know the game Jenga? It is the one with the stack of blocks built into a tower. The objective is to strategically remove blocks from the tower to destabilize it without making it fall in hopes that those you are playing against will make a mistake and bring the entire thing down.
We’ve come in here and we’ve spoken the truth about who we are and what we believe, but no sooner have we left the building—if not sooner!—than the devil and the world begin to play Jenga with our lives. Like Samantha and her mom who intended to prove there was a hell to the unsuspecting David, those that would come against us have taken the dare and one piece at a time they will seek to bring us down, but… the only way they can truly accomplish this is if we believe them instead of believing the truth spoken by the God who created us, and we know this truth because our Creator has given us a part of Himself. God has given us His Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.”
I believe that I’ve shared this with you before. It was said by, the Patriarch of Antioch, Ignatius IV of the Greek Orthodox Church while speaking to the World Council of Churches in 1968: “Without the Holy Spirit God is far away. Christ stays in the past. The Gospel is simply an organization. Authority is a matter of propaganda. The Liturgy is no more than an evocation. Christian loving is a slave mentality. But in the Holy Spirit, the cosmos is resurrected and grows with the birth pangs of the Kingdom. The Risen Christ is here. The Gospel is the power of life. The Church shows forth the life of the Trinity. Authority is a liberating service. Mission is a Pentecost. The Liturgy is both renewal and anticipation. Human action is deified.” This is the Spirit that was given to us by God and it is this Spirit that speaks the truth into our souls and minds. Those that would sow seeds of doubt into our beliefs and our faith are very much aware of this Spirit. They know of the strength and courage that this Spirit provides to us, therefore, they enter in to crush that truth. They cannot destroy the truth, so they spread lies, whisperings that take hold within us, causing us to question the things we hold most dear and the promises of Christ. So what are we to do?
Remember Peter: he and the others are out on the lake when they see Jesus walking on the water. They think it is a ghost, but Jesus says, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Jesus has spoken a truth. So Peter says to Jesus, “If it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus said, “Come.” So Peter stepped out of the boat and he too walked on the water, but then the wind blew and the waves rolled and the doubt entered in. Peter began to sink. Yet Peter kept enough sense about him to turn to and call out to the only one who could save him, “Lord… Jesus.. save me!” We know that he did and I can imagine Jesus laughing and smiling broadly when he said to Peter, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we have been given the truth about our faith and the truth about who we are—sons and daughters of God—when you begin to sense those seeds of doubt being planted, like Peter, call out, “Lord, save me.” Lord, save me from those who would seek to hide the truth from me by spreading lies within my soul. Lord, save me by kindling the fire of your Spirit that is within me, so that all doubts are burned away. Pray, “Lord, save me,” and he who died for you will hear you and he will reach out his hand and snatch you out of the grasp of those who would come against you.
Let us pray (a prayer of St. Augustine):
Breathe into us, Holy Spirit,
that our thoughts may all be holy.
Move in us, Holy Spirit,
that our work, too, may be holy.
Attract our hearts, Holy Spirit,
that we may love only what is holy.
Strengthen us, Holy Spirit,
that we may defend all that is holy.
Protect us, Holy Spirit,
that we may always be holy.