Faith in a World of Reason

three crossesI’ve had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge my whole life.  I’ve always absorbed facts and been slow to believe anything without clear evidence.  At the same time, however, there’s always been a voice inside of me calling me towards God without my permission, leaving me trying to resist it time and time again.  I guess that’s not quite true.  I’ve never had too much of a problem accepting the idea that there could be a God.  I think the majority of people would agree that believing science’s fumbled attempt to explain the origin of the universe and life as we know it without a God takes more faith than believing there is a God.  But believing in a God with rules and regulations and accepting a book filled with contradictions, outdated wisdom, and stories that lacked little, if any, historic evidence seemed to be for the uneducated, simple-minded, and foolish.  I’ve legitimately struggled with faith most of my life.  During my teenage years, I never wanted a relationship with God and tried to run from Him anyway I could.  The problem was that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t silence that voice inside me that whispered to my soul, reminding me that God would not give up on me.

I was raised in a Christian household, but always felt myself drawn more to Eastern and New Age spirituality.  I wanted to be the one who determined what worked and what didn’t work for me.  There were many things about Christian theology that I found troubling and many that appeared flat out wrong.  Pride dominated my spiritual life. I believed by coming up with my own concept of God I could side-track all of the things that the modern world says are foolish to believe in.  But there was a problem with my philosophy that I couldn’t overlook.

  1. No matter how far East I turned, the things that really appealed to me were the very places where Christ showed up.  One of my favorite spiritual texts was the Bhagavad Gita, and it took me awhile to realize what was so attractive about it- the Divine appearing in the form of man and having a personal relationship with him.
  2. Either I formed my own concept of God, filled with all of my finite understanding and personal defects or I tried adopting a moral system that I failed horribly at following.

So finally convinced that Jesus was “the way, the truth, and the life”, I converted back to Christianity.  Well, I guess I shouldn’t say I was convinced.  I admitted that there was something about Christ that I couldn’t ignore.  No matter how hard I tried, he wouldn’t stay out of my spiritual journey.  At the same time, I still had all the same problems with Christianity as I did before and wasn’t ready to admit that there weren’t many things wrong with it.  I resolved to do the thing I’d always done- simply ignore the things I disagreed with and accept the things I thought were right.

But I underestimated Christ.  There is not a whole lot of grey area in Christianity.  Either you’re in or you’re out.  You can stay on the sidelines, but you’ll never grow and that’s where I was at.  Jesus doesn’t even let you sit and watch from the sidelines for very long before He makes you get involved.  Christianity is about a personal relationship and you can’t seek that relationship very long without making a choice.  He’s either going to make you want to change your ways to become closer to Him, run as fast as you can away from Him, or find a way to dismiss Him as a fairy tale.

My reaction has always been number three.  The Gospel is not without it’s problems.  Fear and pride take a hold of me, and I start needing more and more proof.  Questions start swirling inside my head and doubt convinces me that I’m a fool for putting my hope into something so ridiculous.  Some people have no problem believing everything about the Bible and Jesus’s life.  That’s great, and I envy you.  But I am always going to be the type of person that wants more evidence, and I think that’s the case for many people in the modern world.

So what’s the answer?  Well let’s suppose that there really was a God, a thing such as freewill.  and that God wanted a relationship with us more than anything else in the world.  Wouldn’t He give us airtight case of His existence? Absolutely not.  Even if He wanted to He couldn’t.  Freewill is the ability to make our own choices.  If there was overwhelming evidence, what freedom would we have in our choice?  It would no longer be a choice but a chore.  Imagine if there was a football game where your local high school team was playing the best team in the NFL.  I guess you technically would still have the choice to bet on your high school team winning, but only someone who was wanting to lose their money would do such a stupid thing.  In the same way, if there wasn’t the ability to doubt God, if He appeared to every person who ever questioned Him, and if the story of Jesus was a 100% provable,  only fools wouldn’t submit to Him.  Instead of loving Him because of what He did for us, most people would obey Him simply because they feel they have no other choice.  Even though God does want our submission, first and foremost He wants our love.  Given the possibility to create a robot that looked, talked, and could be programmed to act just like our ideal mate, I think few of us would be happy with “it”.  Sure, it would probably be nice for a few days or even weeks, but after a while you’d realize you don’t have a real relationship, but a slave.  You’d know that the “love” they were giving back to you wasn’t actually love but a feeling you forced them to give to you.  God doesn’t want robots either, which is why He gave us freewill.  We always want more evidence, but God in His love doesn’t give it to us because it would leave us without a choice.

That doesn’t mean that God doesn’t give us some evidence of His existence or that people should not ask questions or believe everything blindly.  It just means that you’ll never be fully convinced simply by evidence alone or if you try to place God under a microscope, He won’t be there.  In my own struggles, I have often wondered why Jesus lived during a time where it would be hard to find evidence even if everything we know about His life from the Gospel did happen.  Why didn’t He wait 2000 years and come in a time where everything was guaranteed to be written down, filmed, or recorded.  But the more I prayed about it, the more I realized that if there was ever a perfect time for Him it would have been around the 1st century.  If  he would have came years before that it would be likely that writings would not have survived, or it would have been deemed a myth.  If he would have been born in the modern era, the evidence would be so overwhelming that  even the most skeptical people would be forced to believe because it would be fact.  The first century gives us enough evidence to believe, but also enough evidence to disbelieve if we’re not willing to turn over our lives to Him.

Some days I still struggle with a bit of doubt when I feel like I deserve proof.  I want the ability to go visit Jesus in some museum somewhere with all the evidence, video footage, and living testimony’s right in front of me.  But thankfully God doesn’t work that way and neither does love.  You don’t love someone without knowing you’re going to lose something in the process, but you know what you are gaining is worth the loss.  Trusting God and having faith requires you to lose something by loving Him.  If God was a proven fact, you wouldn’t lose anything unless you were out of touch with reality and didn’t accept Him.  God is a love affair, not a science.  Too often in today’s world of reason we dismiss Him because we feel like He hasn’t given us enough evidence.  What He gives us is a choice and that is much more of a gift than evidence.  If you seek you will find, and God will always find a way to speak to you, just maybe not in the way you expect it.  So perhaps instead of always looking outward, look inward and hear the still cry of the Spirit inside of you that invites you into His love.


 

Photo Credit: abcdz2000 via Compfight cc

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