‘There’s no use trying’, said Alice ‘one can’t believe impossible things’. ‘I dare say you haven’t had much practice’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.’
Lewis Carroll ‘Through the Looking Glass’
Lewis Carroll is commenting, in his deceptively childish style, on the enigma of faith. Why is it that some people manage to believe things which other people find utterly incredible? In the upside-down world of the White Queen it seems that faith is just a matter of effort. ‘Hold your breath and shut your eyes’ she advises, ‘you can believe anything if only you try hard enough’. But we know it’s not that simple!
The Christmas story contains supernatural events which in the cold light of reason appear quite extraordinary – God becomes man and walks about on earth! How is it that Christians believe stuff like that? Is it just gullibility? No doubt there are Christians who are naïve and credulous, but it’s (hopefully) not fair to portray us all as dupes and dimwits!
Perhaps you’re someone who finds the supernatural nature of the Christmas story hard to swallow. Maybe you’re prepared to accept Jesus as a great teacher but you struggle with the idea of a virgin birth and God becoming flesh. Hopefully there is much in this magazine with its theme of science and faith which will help you, but let me just say this. If you accept that there is (or even that there might be) a God, a supreme being, then surely He would be capable of entering his universe? In fact, wouldn’t it be strange if God had brought this universe into being but then never bothered to communicate with us? Isn’t it exactly the sort of thing we might expect him to do? God taking on human flesh is a mystery that we will never fully understand, but not being able to understand how God became one of us is no proof that he didn’t! When you stop to think, is it any surprise that God’s ways are sometimes mysterious and inexplicable to us? It wouldn’t be much of a ‘god’ if our tiny minds could work out everything about him.
Christmas is unavoidably supernatural because it’s God’s action, but it’s also history, unrepeatable history. Heaven was breaking into earth as never before. Here is the answer to the human condition, the solution to our separation from God. God bridged the gap by coming from heaven to earth. This is how much the mighty God cares about us – being born as one of us, so that he might die instead of us, taking the separation upon himself. So don’t let the supernatural be a barrier to belief – it’s exactly what we need!
May you know the joy of Christmas,
Taken from the Winter 2016 edition of In Touch