FAITH IN SCIENCE????
Seems like this is an oxymoron. Two things that have nothing to do with each other somehow had become intertwined. But it was the only way forward for me to get through this class. I took his advice and plowed through it resisting the whole time my desire to "figure it out" or "see what is happening". (I managed an A- out of it).
Our faith in Jesus is often much like Quantum Physics. What does not make sense to us, makes sense to God in his kingdom. To me, Jesus sounds a lot like my Quantum Physics professor as he tries and tries to get across to the people what God's Kingdom is like and how it works. Words fail to fully express it. He tries multiple parables to get it across to different people
Are you a farmer? Listen to my story about a lost sheep
Are you a wife? Listen to my story of the woman and the lost coin
Are you a merchant? Listen to my story about the pearl of great price
Are you a land owner? Listen to my story about the hidden treasure
It doesn't make sense!
The problem for most of us in listening to these stories is we don't see the sense in it. First in the story of the lost sheep, it's about 1 sheep that leaves the fold of 100 and the shepherd leaves the 99 for the 1 that is lost. The numbers don't add up! The ONE is worth more than the 99? How? Next, Jesus says, "He returns with joy!". Over ONE sheep? Why? He has 99 that didn't get lost!
In the Lost Coin story a woman carelessly loses a coin of great value. Back then woman were the banks of the family and stored their wealth in a bag on a string around their neck. Somehow a coin had rolled out of the bag and was now lost. When she finds it after sweeping the floor she runs to her neighbors with joy yelling, "Rejoice with me! I have found my lost coin!". You and I would not be so proud of our accomplishment. It's like saying, "Rejoice with me! My 401K which was savaged by my foolish investments has returned back to its original value!".
In both the stories of the Pearl of Great Price and the Hidden Treasure, something of great value was somehow overlooked and found by a person who then must go and sell EVERYTHING he has to gain that property. Who does he pay to? He hasn't even had it appraised. What if it's less than what he sold to gain it?
You have intrinsic value to God that you don't see
In all the stories there is something of value to the owner. A sheep. A coin. A pearl. A treasure. It doesn't matter what everyone else thinks. He wants to obtain the item again and must spend time, energy and property to obtain it back. I remember one time being confused about the story of the hidden treasure. I had gotten the story backwards. I thought the man was ME and the treasure was God's Kingdom and I should give all I have to obtain it. But a good Lutheran pastor told me I had it backwards. He told me, "John, YOU are the treasure in the story and GOD is the man who sells everything to obtain you".
The issue here is that we don't see ourselves as a priceless treasure (maybe a stupid sheep... but not a pearl or chest full of gold coins). Maybe when we are younger we might feel this way, but life has a way of tarnishing that treasure we see. What we thought was gold was not gold. Sins we thought we would never do we find ourselves committing. We then perceive our value to diminish in God's eyes. We then begin to think, "Certainly I am not worth much now to him now!"
But we need to understand that our value is not connected with what we do or not do. In all the stories that value is assigned by the owner/finder. The items do nothing to find their way back to the person looking for them. They are found by the person on their own. Our value is not connected to our actions. He created you and therefore you have value to him. You, like the sheep/coin that gets lost, are bound by sin to fall away. Your value, however, is greater than the cost it takes to retrieve the item and some ways the item is worth even more now to God than it was before. God's accounting does not equate to our accounting on earth. What looks like foolishness to us is wisdom to God.
The cost is paid back to himself.
The final issue we have in understanding these stories is who the money/cost is paid back to? Is it Satan? Who? The answer is to God himself. Imagine a friend borrows you car and runs off the road and totals the vehicle (let's say for this story there is no insurance involved). Your friend is without a job and has no way to pay you back. You must therefore pay out of your own pocket to restore the car. When you return with the new car you hand the keys to your friend and tell him to use it as long as he has need of it. Why? Because you value your friendship more than you value the car. You LOVE your friend MORE than you love the money you lost. Both in Economics and in Christianity we call this by the same name: The Great Exchange. In Economics, if I pay $5 for a gallon of milk to a store owner, both he and I walk away with more. He valued my $5 more than the milk and is glad to take it. I value the milk more than my $5 and I am glad to take it. In God's world he sees our value as his creation as being greater than the cost of his Sons own life and gladly gives it for us.
St. Paul writes in Romans 8:32,
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?Faith is what you need
Of course, all of our "analogies" fail at some point to fully compare to God's world. We must, like myself when taking Quantum Physics, accept what we are told with FAITH and ACCEPT it as the TRUTH it really is. The debt is paid. The door is open. You are loved by God.