Faith and Fact

Faith is not unreasonable, nor does it ignore the facts. There is, of course, a few times in life when there is no other way but to hurdle the facts, leaping over difficult challenges with a deep assurance that God has given us guidance and hope. The famous sermon entitled, “The Times That Try Men’s Souls” was crafted to reveal these hazardous life experiences. Nevertheless, these are rare experiences. The general rule of faith, is that it is supported and defined by the facts that are in front of us. We just need the confidence and the faith to move forward.

It isn’t doubtful that Biblical David was a person of great faith. But he also had the facts on his side. One example is the contest between David and Goliath. It is common place to assume when David squared-off against Goliath that faith was the only factor in his victory over an opponent  with a considerable disparity in physical size and military experience.

A closer look reveals that David’s faith was indeed bolstered by a convincing set of facts. Israeli military leaders questioned David why a victory could be possible against such a formidable opponent. David responded with a set of facts: he shared that on two separate  occasions a lion and a bear unsuccessfully attempted a grizzly dismemberment of a flock of sheep he was shepherding. David shared with these dignitaries that he slew both the lion and the bear on the spot. And that in light of these facts this barbaric Goliath guy would meet the same fate. These facts and David’s faith convinced these military leaders to give him clearance to enter the fray with only a rudimentary sling shot in hand. The interdependence of faith and fact gave this very young untrained civilian, a decisive victory in a suspiciously winnable military encounter.

We should also be careful not to ignore the facts. It’s not difficult to plunge ahead with something in which the facts speak loudly against it. The Christian life is a passionate one. True believers are full of enthusiasm and purposeful intention. Yet, we must not ignore facts that would tell us to reroute our efforts.

Of course, you probably know of Welch’s Grape Juice. But it is not as known that Thomas Welch was on his way with his wife to South Africa, commissioned by the Methodist Church to mission work. His wife took gravely ill. Thomas was forced to abort this worthy vocation for himself and his wife. Their hearts said one thing and the facts said another.

Thomas later discovered a way to use pasteurization to keep grape juice from fermenting into wine. Thomas with his son Charles eventually founded the Welch’s Grape Juice Company. They first worked together to encourage the church to use it for communion. Then they sold the non-alcoholic beverage to the general public. Over time, Thomas donated much of  his wealth from the sale of grape juice to missionary and philanthropic causes around the world. It was once said, Thomas Welch donated more money to missions than any giver of his time. Thomas Welch and his wife did not ignore the facts, and by doing so satisfied their missionary aspirations and multiplied their efforts around the globe.

Joe Hutchison/Executive Director

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