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Why or No Matter What

“Why” or “No Matter What”

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Both parts of the title above can belong to significant theological reflections. In fact, they do. Very often the question “why” is at the root of theological discussions that have to do with our life, values, hopes, and beliefs. The determination expressed by “no matter what” has equal impact upon our understanding of the theological perspectives outlined by the Scriptures for today and the future.

We could operate by constantly asking “Why?” or just move forward driven by the determination “no matter what.” Recently, I began reading the book of Acts through the prism of this dilemma and not surprisingly, I found that the early church experienced trials and difficulties that should have legitimately provoked the question “Why?” Here are some of the major ones: Couldn’t the church do something to spare Stephen who obviously contributed immensely to the rapid increase of “the number of the disciples in Jerusalem” by being “full of grace and power” and “doing great wonders and sings among the people” (Acts 6:7-8)? Couldn’t the revival in Jerusalem spill over to the other towns, villages, and regions in a natural manner and not by sudden persecution and scattering around of the believers (Acts 8:1)? Could God have prevented the loss of James like He did it in Peter’s case (Acts 12)? In fact, king Herod who ordered the death of James died not many days later. Chapter 12 begins with James’ death and ends with Herod’s death! Couldn’t the wisdom of Peter and James in Jerusalem prevent the rift between Paul and Barnabas in Antioch or at least make an effort to bring them back together as a team that had proven to be so effective for the spreading of the gospel (Acts 15)?

The careful reader of the Acts narrative observes that Luke does not make the smallest effort to provide an explanation of why these and other challenges ever happened to and in the church. Luke was concerned but not disheartened. Instead, he delighted to write phrases like, “but the word of God increased and multiplied” (Acts 12:24) and used them as milestones on the road of progress of the gospel. In other words, his explicit message was “no matter what”!

We live in challenging times and rightfully we should be concerned. However, in all our efforts for the health of the church and the spreading of the gospel, may our “no matter what” be always stronger and more influential than all our “whys”! This is how faith and reason work together.

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