What if you went to church next weekend, sat in your usual spot, sang along to worship songs with the usual worship team, watched the pulpit expectantly as your usual pastor took his place to face the crowd and then instead of uttering the usual sermon, admitted that he now found it impossible to believe in the premise of Christianity? That he had discovered his faith could not stand up to the evidence against it, or that believing in a God that would allow cruel things to happen to loving people no longer made sense. He was sorry, but he had officially for the record lost his faith and his resignation as church pastor was effective immediately.
Would this shake you at all? Make you, in turn, question what you believed?
I have often struggled with my faith and sometimes just knowing that the person standing up and preaching each week believes in his faith so fervently is the only thing that prevents mine from unraveling completely. I can be extremely dependent on my spiritual leader’s faith.
And I can’t help but see how this weakens the argument for Christianity. If we are all a bunch of people dependent on someone else’s faith who is dependent on someone else’s who is dependent on someone else’s… then who actually really believes?
But then again, that is the legacy Jesus left, right? The early church began not long after Christ’s death. They were close to Jesus, maybe some had seen him pass through their town or perform a miracle. Perhaps one guy told a few friends about his eyewitness account of Jesus, and then those friends multiplied into a crowd which turned the first guy into their leader–their pastor. He was simply relaying what he knew to be true to those who then relayed it to others.
In this sense, being dependent on your pastor’s faith is being the church. I can’t imagine having faith on my own. A fact that used to make me feel weak and question what I believed, but now I think has more to do with being the way Jesus intended his people to be: dependent on him, dependent on each other.