We all spend time trying to make sense of things Why isnt my computer working? Why hasnt my student loan come yet? Why does my best friend seem to be avoiding me? To get answers, to make sense of these things, we sometimes have to go to an expert. We shall need a computer buff to get the computer working, and we shall probably not understand if presented with a full, technical, mathematical explanation; it will be enough if we are told to carry out a few practical operations to solve the problem.
What about questions concerning the purpose of life, the problem of suffering, the existence of evil, what (if anything) lies beyond death? We can no more make sense of these things than we can understand the profundities of computational mathematics (if we are not computer buffs). To whom do we turn? For Christian faith it is God who makes sense of these problems, not by making us understand their causes (far more difficult to understand than the most complicated mathematics), but by giving us practical steps to take in order to cope with them.
Someone once wrote that the humanity of Christ is that which translates the ineffable language of the Most High into mans native tongue. The life of Christ discloses a God who seeks to draw near to the outcast, the lonely, the sick in mind and body, to those who desire a better world and to be better people as part of that world. The teaching of Christ emphasises the breadth and depth of Gods mercy. The actions of Christ expose and condemn human self-deceit, self-aggrandisement, the desire to dominate others. By ending in apparent failure on a criminals cross Christs life warns us that success cannot be adequately measured in human terms. By triumphing over death, Christ shows that death does not have the last word, and that there is hope for a better world.
These things are sufficient to give Christians the courage to face life with faith, hope and love. Critics who dismiss faith as illogical nonsense are perhaps seeking the wrong thing an explanation only understood by God, not a transforming vision of the possibilities of life lived in his service.
John Rogerson is Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at Sheffield University and an Anglican priest with a regular ministry at Beauchief Abbey. He has written this article especially for Outlook.
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