Have you happened to look in the western sky in the early evening the last couple nights? If you have, maybe you have taken notice of the two bright stars in the western sky, both appearing well before dark, and also well before any other stars in the area. These two objects, as you may be aware, are Venus and Jupiter. Which, if I remember right, are the third and fourth brightest objects in our sky, behind the Sun and Moon. Venus is the brighter one, and currently appears slightly below Jupiter, but that will change soon. On Sunday night, if you’re lucky to have a clear sky (which it looks like the Detroit area will), you will see that the two planets appear to be right next to each other. Now, maybe this doesn’t exactly thrill you, but it does me (go ahead, call me a geek – you wouldn’t be the first). Not only do I think it’s cool, but it also gets me thinking…
Jupiter is a massive planet, over double the mass of all the other planets combined, but by looking in the sky tonight you would never know it. Venus looks huge next to the tiny bright light that is Jupiter, yet Jupiter is roughly 350 times larger than Venus. But, how do we “know” that? How do we know that the much smaller object in the sky is the much larger object in reality? For most of us, those of us who are not astrophysicists, we “know” it because we learned it in school. Someone told it to us, they showed us some models, and maybe even some math calculations to prove it. We accept it as fact and move on. Jupiter is huge, got it.
On the other hand, it seems as if most people will not accept the Gospel of Christ. They resist it by saying all sorts of things like “that doesn’t make sense, it is impossible for there to be a virgin birth”, or “there is no ‘proof’ that Jesus rose from the dead”. However, those same people will look into the sky on a night like tonight and you can ask them “the large, bright object is Venus, the smaller, dimmer object just above it is Jupiter. Which one is bigger?” And, if they have successfully completed the fifth grade, they will answer “Jupiter”. So, you take it one step further and ask “How do you know that Jupiter is bigger?” And they will answer “ummmh, because Mrs. Murphy told me so (Mrs. Murphy happens to have been my second grade teacher, and I remember that that’s when I learned that Jupiter was the largest planet)” Then, try to explain to that same person about the mysteries of faith and they will say “I’m not buying it, that doesn’t make any sense.” Maybe Mrs. Murphy should have done a better job of preaching the Gospel!
What is that thing that allows us to believe things that appear to be counterintuitive in one instance, but not in another? I suppose that when it comes to faith, it is a gift of the Holy Spirit, but how does one receive it? I still wonder to this day how I was changed from a cynic to a believer. It is a supernatural process that can not be explained in a classroom, or anywhere else for that matter. People I know had tried to explain the faith to me on many occasions in the past, but I just didn’t “get it”. Nor did I want to, for that matter, but I still knew that Jupiter was big, even though I couldn’t really offer any proof for that either. Then, slowly, my eyes were opened and suddenly I could see so clearly what before had been hidden.
Now, I want others to see what I see. I want to be able to go up to people and tell them about the love of Christ and have them say “wow, no one ever explained it to me like that before! Where do I sign up?” But, of course, that has never happened. Usually it’s more like “will you stop talking to me about this garbage! I’m not joining your cult!” Then we’ll both look up to the sky and I’ll ask “which of those two objects is bigger?”, and they’ll answer “the smaller, dimmer one”. Oh well, I’ll keep trying.