Empiricism

Empiricism

Many Christians are confined to what they can only see within time or space. This mindset (even if unconscious) limits our ability to understand how the Holy Spirit works. Since we live in a scientific age, everything we think we know is based on observable facts. This is what is known as an “empirical view” of the world, and it’s seeped into our beliefs.

This empirical mindset (of reality being based purely on the five senses, a.k.a. naturalism) has infiltrated deeply into Western churches. Plenty of Christians have become too empirical, not trusting in the unseen of the supernatural, but only in the natural world. Personally, I have done this plenty of times, not trusting that I am sensing God’s Spirit leading me. But what happens if we step out in faith, and believe there is more than what meets our eyes? Let me share a brief story of what just happened to me recently, and I hope it encourages you!

Just a few months ago I stepped outside of my comfort zone, away from my tendency towards the empirical, and listened to that still, small voice whispering to my soul. My son and I went to a Subway restaurant for dinner, when I noticed the young woman behind the counter, who prepared the sandwiches, appeared crabby. As soon as I noticed her, I sensed the Lord wanted me to pray for her. I silently prayed to Him— “You want me to WHAT?! Right here, God, in the middle of this Subway?” Nah…. that can’t be right. But the thought kept tugging at me… Pray for her! Pray for her! Despite my unease, I asked how she was doing. She said not well. Then, out of sheer obedience, I asked, “Can I pray for you?” Gulp! Fear gripped me as I waited for her response. Would she reject me, insult me, or worse yet, curse at me? Thankfully, she did none of that. Instead, she smiled at me, and said she was a believer! She explained what was going on in her life so I could pray for her needs. As I stood there, with my 13-year old son next to me in line (thank goodness no one else was in the restaurant right then), I prayed that God would meet her needs. After I finished, she asked, “what church do you go to?” When I told her, she smiled even wider—she went to the same church! (It’s a big church, with two services, so I hadn’t met her yet.) I laughed, and said I thought our Pastor would be proud because he always encourages us to pray for people when we’re out in the city. She confessed that she hadn’t been to church for several months because she had to work on Sunday mornings. I was floored! It just so happened that very next Sunday our church was starting a new evening service! (Was that a divine appointment or what?) If I hadn’t been obedient to pray for her, she wouldn’t have heard about the evening service. It was evident God wanted her to know He saw her, He knew her, and He cared about her! Click To TweetShe beamed. I watched as her whole demeanor changed. My son and I ate our sandwiches, watched as other customers came in, and overheard her telling them she was having a great night. What a transformation! Isn’t God good?

Here is the point— if I had only relied on my empirical knowledge of my immediate, observable surroundings, there is no way I would have prayed for that woman at the Subway. I took a step of faith, listened to the tug of the Holy Spirit, and was amazed at how God worked it out. Christians…we need to get outside of our “empirical boxes,” not confining ourselves to what we can only see within time/space. We need to allow the reality of God’s supernatural kingdom to manifest in our everyday lives. Let’s recognize that naturalism is not all there is to reality, and let’s walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7).