Faith is a controversial thing. So much so that it inflames those who claim they have no faith in God or any other higher being. The former professional wrestler and governor of Minnesota, Jessie Ventura, was famously quoted, “Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers.” I, too, have my concerns over “organized religion,” but time and time again people such as Ventura develop personal attacks on whatever they choose not to believe. I am a fan of choice; and not having faith in God is a valid choice. Jim Elliot is probably more famous for how he died than how he lived.
Jim was a multi-talented guy whose parents raised him and his siblings with a robust faith in God. Elliot felt God’s calling to minister to an Ecuadorian indigenous tribe called the Huaorani. After some initial encounters with the tribe over several months, Jim and his ministerial companions were brutally murdered by the very people they intended to help. But the story didn’t end there. Jim’s new bride, Elisabeth, determined that the work God laid out for her husband must continue. Against conventional wisdom, Elisabeth reached out to the native people, the same tribe that killed her husband, and moved into the village along with their three-year-old daughter. It is widely thought that without the sacrifice made by Jim and the others earlier, that the Huaorani people may not have responded as they did to Elisabeth and the others that followed. The display of sacrificial love, a love grounded in faith and confidence in Christ, brought Elisabeth to the native people, and in turn they responded in love and respect for her.
The apostle Paul provides excellent testimony of faith through trials in his letter to the Corinthians (see 2 Corinthians 11:16–33). Check out the suffering he endured because of his faith in Jesus:
Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches (2 Corinthians 11:24–28, nlt).
It would be difficult to argue that Paul is anything less than a “man’s man,” a rugged, tough, and bold campaigner of the cause for which he dedicated his later life. He was the first among many who followed in suffering for the sake of their great faith in Christ.
Many well-accomplished people have expressed their faith in Jesus throughout history, too many to name, but here are a few.
- C. S. Lewis: internationally renowned author, most famously for The Chronicles of Narnia.
- Galileo Galilei: noted astronomer, physicist, engineer, philosopher, and mathematician. Sir Isaac Newton: prominent scientist, discoverer of the force of gravity.
- Georges Cuvier: French naturalist and zoologist, sometimes referred to as the “father of paleontology.”
- George Washington Carver: American scientist, botanist, educator, and inventor.
Actually, between the years 1901 and 2000, nearly two-thirds of Nobel Prize Laureates have identified Christianity as their religious preference.
Is a faith in Jesus a crutch for weak-minded people?
Well, you decide.
An excerpt from the book, THOSE PEOPLE – The True Character of the Homeless