August 9, 2016

The weakness of common sense

Common sense may work for many things, but not all. For instance, Shillington in his book, Reading the Sacred Text, tells of living on ‘Overwater Road’ and wondering how it got its name. He walked the road and noted how it turned toward the river and came to the conclusion this was the source of its name. He shared this insight with friends, only to later find out that the road was named after a nearby farmer whose last name was Overwater.

Shillington was illustrating the importance of thinking meaningfully about the objective world. He added the same is true for the Bible. It cannot be properly understood by “unverified insight arising out of common sense.”

Interpretation requires understanding because a person with faith in Christ will read from a different perspective than a non-believer and a conservative lay person will read differently than a liberal scholar. Obviously the perspective of others will correct or challenge our views, just as Shillington needed his neighbor to correct his understanding about the naming of Overwater Road.

That said, the Bible is not understood by common sense. Faith makes a difference in what a reader sees in that Book of books. Just before Jesus raised Lazarus, He said to his sister Martha:

“’Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.’” (John 11:40–42)

Jesus knew and saw the glory of God. The people around Him did not believe and could not see God’s glory as Jesus saw it. His miracles were intended to change their view from common sense (‘the dead do not rise’) to faith in the power of God who can do anything, yet many still could not let go of their reasoning.

I’m thinking of conversations with Christians who are mystified at the behavior and words of their unbelieving friends. Some of these Christians say, “Believing in God seems like common sense.” Yet as stated above, all approach life with our biases, backgrounds, and that innate tendency to rely on our own reasoning even though God clearly tells us to do otherwise . . .

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.” (Proverbs 3:5–7)

Chambers says I must never let common sense push the Son of God away. God gave me common sense in my humanity so I would not step in holes or stick my finger in a light socket, but common sense is not the same as the gift of His Son. Jesus gives me a supernatural sense because He senses and reveals the Father, something common sense never can or will do. As Chambers says, “Our ordinary wits never worship God unless they are transfigured by the indwelling Son of God.”

I cannot rely on my wits with the same totality and faith as relying on Jesus Christ. This is why IQ and even common sense must take second place to the revealing power of God.

1 comment:

Darrell said...

As usual, excellent commentary!