How to Believe

Believe in God?
Most people believe in God (even the ones who say they don’t.)  Everything that exists implies that there is a designer and a maker.  No matter how far you zoom out (the entire universe) or how far you zoom in (the inexhaustible detail of the micro-universes inside every atom) there is amazing design and purpose in how it all fits together.  It is very difficult to sustain belief for even a moment that all of this happened by chance.  None of us believe that given enough time a million monkeys at typewriters could eventually compose a single coherent sentence, let alone the Book of Genesis. Time, plus chance, plus monkeys …  just equals a bunch of dead monkeys.

I have tried to be an agnostic, but I can’t lie to myself long enough to allow time, chance and random chaos to make an iPhone. -Bad Buddha

God in Nature
There is evidence
surrounding us for the existence of God . Things like the universe having a consistent and purposeful design, it seems as though a creative mind put it all together.   Mankind has had a basic moral code that transcends cultures and history, as if we have come from a common creative imagination.  History appears to have a progressive and purposeful direction, it seems as though an author has been behind the larger story. It would even seem that we are all inclined to spiritual beliefs and motivated to worship something higher than ourselves.  Although all of these arguments can be rationally smashed upon the rocks of philosophy, there is still some nagging truth at the center of these ideas that will not go away, and points us to God.

 “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — His eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen being understood what has been made, so that men are without excuse”.
– Romans 1:20

God Speaks
Of course the general revelation of God through creation is not the end of it.  God has revealed Himself through many messengers and prophets.  God spoke to Moses through a burning bush, he spoke to many others through angels, He spoke to others in visions and dreams, and through these people He gave us His Word.  The Law.  The Bible.  He gave us specific revelation that tells us who He is, who we are, and how He wants us to live our lives.  This is good, because without His specific revelation to us, we humans tend to think that throwing virgins into volcanoes is the best way to worship.

Too Many Gods
Some people will despair  at the thought of who the true God is because there are so many different ideas, and who can know which one is right?  Let me propose that there are really only two answers to this question, and everything else is a matter of emphasis.  Either God is a knowable person, or He is an unknowable abstraction.  Either God is the God of Genesis through Revelation (The Jewish God who is fully revealed to us in Jesus Christ), or God is the impersonal pantheon of Hindu manifestations of Brahman.  These are the only two choices.  Every religion goes back to one of these two, Islam is a Christian heresy and Buddhism is a Hindu atheism, etc.  So, don’t fool yourself into pretending that there is no point in seeking God because of all the disorganization of organized religions.

(I love when people say, “I’m spiritual, but I’m not into organized religion.”  As if they prefer unorganized religion.)

Jesus Is God
The most specific revelation of God’s Word to us is also the most important.  The most specific revelation of God to mankind is found in the incarnation.  The Word made flesh.  Christmas day and Easter morning.  Jesus Christ is the living Word of God.  He is the ultimate revelation of God to man. 
If you want to know who God is, find out who Jesus is.  That is the answer.  John 1

Why Do We Believe?
But, why do we believe?  Do we really believe in God because we stood on top of a mountain and looked at the stars in the sky and were amazed?   Do we believe in Jesus because our parents and culture told us to?  Were we brainwashed?  Is it all some kind of religulous group hypnosis like Bill Maher would lead us to believe? Is Christianity good for the world, or does it keep mankind in a pre-modern state of superstition?

You Bet Your Life
Have you ever heard of Pascal’s wager?   Pascal said if it turns out that there is no God, then the person who lives their life believing in Jesus doesn’t lose anything, but the person who lived their life not believing … loses everything.  I stood in front of my high school speech class and dropped this bomb.  There were lots of blank expressions on faces, but my future wife was there, and she heard me.  God can even use arrogant teenagers to deliver His Word.

It would be better for an agnostic live as though there is a God until they have proof that there is not. Play it safe. If you think there might be a fire in the next room, feel the door and open it slowly. Don’t walk in with your eyes closed talking about the absence of fire. -Bad Buddha

It’s Good To Believe
This brings us to the pragmatic, the practical.  The Christian life is a life that makes sense.  It has purpose, direction, meaning, community, beauty and comfort.  The Godless life is a bleak and meaningless existence.  Whoever does not love God, loves death.  From a practical standpoint alone, a person should believe, because it makes for a better life.  I’m not saying that’s good enough, nor am I saying that it is better to believe in something … anything.  However, there are blessings to being in a Christian community and living a Christian life … even if you struggle with actually believing in the reality of Jesus.  This brings me to my final point.

It’s Not Up To You
Why do we believe?  Those of us who believe in Jesus and have faith only have this faith because God gave it to us.  Faith comes by hearing the word of God.  His word.  No one can be argued into faith.  No one can be tricked into faith.  No one can muster up faith by trying really hard, saying a magic phrase, or doing God some big favor.  A person will only have faith if God gives them faith.  God uses His word, and speaks through His people to plant faith into people’s hearts.

When in Doubt:
When I find myself doubting (and everyone will find themselves doubting from time to time), I pray these words:
“Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.”  AMEN