encouraging us to ponder

I know that faith is a hard topic for many. Controversial at times, too. We’re aren’t always good at talking about what’s hard. We aren’t always good at respectfully exploring what we don’t understand. Especially when others are involved. We attempt to at times fit our understanding of God into some earthly, intangible box, as opposed to sitting with the hard, seeking to understand, allowing ourselves to learn and grow and be inspired — as opposed to thinking we can somehow figure it all out on our own.

One person who helped me learn much was Tim Keller. An author, pastor and father of three, he passed away on Friday. During his life, he humbly had much to say; he also had much wisdom in how he said it. As many would attest, including some of the celebs whom he also aided in significantly growing in wisdom, Keller found creative ways to teach and inspire by weaving together words from philosophy, literature, pop culture and more. I oft benefit from slowing down, pondering his words…

“Tolerance isn’t about not having beliefs. It’s about how your beliefs lead you to treat people who disagree with you.”

“Describe the God you’ve rejected. Describe the God you don’t believe in. Maybe I don’t believe that God either.”

“If you’re falling off a cliff, strong faith in a weak branch is fatally inferior to weak faith in a strong branch. Salvation is not finally based on the strength of your faith, but on the object of your faith.”

“You don’t fall into love. You commit to it. Love says, ‘I will be there no matter what.’”

“The central basis of Christian assurance is not how much our hearts are set on God, but how unshakably his heart is set on us.”

“If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said. If he didn’t, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether you like his teaching, but whether he rose from the dead.”

“Only if your god can outrage and challenge you will you know that you worship the real God and not a figment of your imagination. . . . If your god never disagrees with you, you might just be worshiping an idealized version of yourself.”

“To say ‘I know God forgives me, but I can’t forgive myself’ means you’ve failed an idol whose approval is more important than God’s.”

“The gospel says you are simultaneously more sinful and flawed than you ever dared believe, yet more loved and accepted than you ever dared hope.”

“If you want to understand your own behavior, you must understand that all sin against God is grounded in a refusal to believe that God is more dedicated to our good, and more aware of what that is, than we are. We distrust God because we assume he is not truly for us, that if we give him complete control we will be miserable. Adam and Eve did not say, ‘Let’s be evil. Let’s ruin our own lives and everyone else’s too!’ Rather they thought, ‘We just want to be happy. But his commands don’t look like they’ll give us the things we need to thrive. We’ll have to take things into our own hands—we can’t trust him.’”

“The temptation for those who suffer is to assume that because we can’t think of any good purposes God may have for our suffering, there can’t be any.”

“It is hard to stay angry at someone if you are praying for them. It is also hard to stay angry unless you feel superior, and it is hard to feel superior if you are praying for them, since in prayer you approach God as a forgiven sinner.”

“God will either give us what we ask or give us what we would have asked if we knew everything he knows.”

“Christian communicators must show that we remember (or at least understand) very well what it is like not to believe.”

“Jesus is one of the very few persons in history who founded a great world religion or who, like Plato or Aristotle, has set the course of human thought and life for centuries. Jesus is in that tiny, select group. On the other hand, there have been a number of persons over the years who have implicitly or explicitly claimed to be divine beings from other worlds. Many of them were demagogues; many more were leaders of small, self-contained sects of true believers. What is unique about Jesus is that he is the only member of the first set of persons who is also a member of the second.”

Thanks, Tim… for encouraging us to ponder.