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October 10, 2013

MAY: We all have it in us

— “Is it tougher today to have faith?”

The answer really depends in what we choose to place our faith.

If that choice is Major League Baseball, the answer is “yes.”

Performance-enhancing drugs, or PEDs, are a huge issue in sports, but especially right now in baseball.

I watched with you during the personal home run battle between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa and knew something was going on that was not natural.

I saw Barry Bonds transform from the skinny kid who would have had sand kicked in his face to the muscle-bound Hulkster who could will baseballs out of the park and knew something was going on.

We watched together as Ryan Braun, the 2011 National League MVP, admitted his usage of the drugs and accepted his punishment. With a lump in my throat, I type the name Alex Rodriguez and admit my faith in baseball is stretched thin. Rules have been broken; more importantly, so has my trust.

If that choice is politicians, the answer is “yes.”

We watch with helpless disgust as our government enters another day with a “limited” ability to spend money. Limited seems to mean no funds for the things one party can use to its political advantage.

Limited means that Yellowstone National Park is closed, but Lincoln Park, close to the homes of several senators in Washington, D.C. is open. Limited means that Navy and Air Force bases are shut down, but the Navy-Air Force football game can be played. Rules of political decency have been broken; more importantly, so has my trust.

It may not be just baseball and politics.

NBC’s Chuck Todd lamented “people have lost faith in their institutions. Government, politics, corporations, the media, organized religions, organized labor, banks, businesses and other mainstays of a healthy society are failing.”

So what about God? Does God fall into the same sinking boat? Is it tougher today to have faith in God — any religion’s god — than what it used to be?

Over the next several weeks, we are going to take some time to look at the state of faith. We are not going to talk about the health of the Roman Catholic Church. We are not going to examine attendance trends in mainline Protestant denominations. We are not even going to ponder why one church can grow by leaps and bounds and another church watches as a building and property sit abandoned and in disrepair.

Instead, we will put faith under a microscope and try to make some observations.

Let’s take a look at our faith. Southern Indiana faith. Do we still have it? Is it healthy?

Let’s look closely and make our first observation about faith. We all have it. We all put faith in something. Family. Business. Stock market. Science. Technology. Religion.

We understand that no man is an island, and that we must put our faith in things that are bigger than ourselves.

John Ortberg, author of the book “Faith and Doubt,” states, “Our problem is not that science has taught us our world has no meaning. Our problem is that we have decided that what cannot be answered by science cannot be answered at all.”  

Our minds know exactly what Ortberg is proposing. We understand that there are some questions that simply cannot be answered by an empirical, scientific method of reasoning.

There are times in life where I realize that more than others. The death of a loved one. The senseless bombings in Syria. The unexpected loss of a job. An unfaithful spouse. A prodigal child.

I am forced to look up because simply looking all around leaves me with more questions than when I started.

Newberry-medal winning author Madeleine L’Engle commented, “Those who believe they believe in God but without passion in the heart, without anguish of mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, and even at times without despair, believe only in the idea of god, and not in God himself.”

Faith. We all have it. I choose to place mine not in an institution, but in a Person. And I choose to have my faith with passion.

  — Tom May is the Minister of Discipleship at Eastside Christian Church in Jeffersonville. He is an adjunct instructor in the Communications Department at Indiana University Southeast.

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