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Today: 17 October 2019


Knife Edge

First published 07/04/2019

In the midst of the UK’s long and continuing discussions about leaving the European Union (we really don’t like talking about ‘Brexit’ - it’s too emotional), a government law officer was asked whether a particular proposal amounted to ‘a leap of faith’.  Not knowing where you are going to land suggests you might not want to jump anyway.

In any major decision it’s good to weigh all the factors.  Does this or that action make sense?  Is it safe?  Is it reasonable?  The UK government at the moment seems to be paralysed by indecision because there is no consensus about what is the best, safest, most reasonable and beneficial path to take.  And whenever any final decision is made, it will still be something of ‘a leap in the dark’.  We might guess, but we cannot know what the outcome will be.  But sooner or later a decision will have to be made.

It might make faith issues much simpler if all the implications and consequences of believing or not believing could be known in advance, and if our decision could then be based on a rational judgement.  Some people believe the issues are already very clear.  Some think that believing in God, for instance, is nonsense.  Others might say - but how can you not believe in God?

In fact the issues are not clear cut.  There are quite finely balanced arguments for believing as well as for not believing in God, for instance.  Some people, faced with this conflict remain undecided, they are agnostic, don’t know how to decide, so sit on the fence - they are on a knife edge of indecision.

But that is not a good or comfortable place to stay.  Sooner or later decisions have to be made, and very often they involve ‘a leap of faith’ into an unknown future.  Indecision should not become an excuse for no decision.

Jesus once challenged his disciples over this.  “What’s your decision?” he asked, with the implication that they could leave if they wanted to (see John 6, verses 60-69).  Peter replied for them all, saying, “Lord, to whom should we go?  You have the words that give eternal life.  We believe and know that you are the Holy One who has come from God.”

In a way that wasn’t a calm, rational, carefully thought through response.  It was the heart’s leap of faith.  But not a leap in the dark, because it was an act of trust in Jesus.  And that’s why the language of leaping in the dark is not really appropriate for Christian commitment.  It’s much more about having found a friend and sticking with him.  It’s not about a leap of faith, much more an act of personal trust in someone who totally deserves our trust.

Neither Peter nor any of the other disciples knew all the answers, but they knew who Jesus was, and decided to trust him.

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Jesus, you touch our minds and our hearts.  Help me to understand as much as I can with my mind, but even more to trust you, decisively, as Friend and Saviour.

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