Belief is a powerful force. Think about it: You have the ability to choose to think something is true without even having the evidence to back it up in that moment.
Just that description kind of concerns me. What if I decide to believe in something that isn’t true? If I publicly announce that I believe my favorite sports team is going to win, but they end up losing, it’s going to be embarrassing.
If I believe that I’ve met Mr. or Mrs. Right and I end up getting dumped, it’s going to hurt really bad. People like Hitler and Osama bin Laden got people to believe they should take drastic, violent action.
But before we swear off belief all together based on these examples, we have to remember that we have modern medicine because scientifically-minded men and women believed they could find cures to polio and smallpox. We believed it was possible to go to the moon. We did.
I’m writing this article and you’re reading it because we believe our conversation is valuable.
So belief can be good or bad.
One of the biggest questions in life involves belief: What do you believe about God? Does he exist? If he does, is he good or bad? People have been asking these questions for a very long time.
When you add in all that talk of eternity and destination of your soul that most religions deal with, it sure puts a lot on the line. I gotta tell you, I really don’t want to screw this one up.
So how do you decide what to believe about God?
Do you accept what your parents taught you? Do you hold onto what you hear in houses of worship like church or synagogue or temple or mosque.
This seems like a really important decision. One that you shouldn’t outsource to anybody else.
This seems like a really important decision. One that you shouldn’t outsource to anybody else. I mean, come on, if you’re not really convinced, then what good is saying you believe something? Let me take a minute and explain one of the reasons why I have decided to believe in Jesus as my answer to the whole God question.
C.S. Lewis (writer of the Narnia book series) was a scholar of Greek and Latin literature. Based on this, he had read a lot of mythology — think the Greek and Roman gods. He was also an atheist. He decided to read the New Testament in order to disprove the claims it held.
See, Lewis was used to reading eloquent and poetic and dynamic writing by myth makers, but what he found in the Bible’s writings, according to his story in the book “Surprised by Joy,” were poorly written, sometimes confusing accounts of a man claiming to be God.
Accounts that you would expect from people who were not professional writers, but rather fishermen or tax collectors.
After much consideration, Lewis decided they must be telling the truth and accepted their eyewitness accounts.
I’m with Lewis on this. I believe that the Hebrew scriptures are genuine and that they point to a fulfillment which only the first hand accounts of the life and times of a man named Jesus from a place called Nazareth can be considered to have fulfilled.
If a man can predict his own death and resurrection, I’m willing to ride with him. And I don’t think he was just a good teacher. Lewis explained why, really, that’s just not possible:
“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
But even in the midst of my belief in Jesus, I gotta tell you that my beliefs keep developing and changing. If I met me from five years ago, we’d disagree on a lot of stuff.
But my overall belief that Jesus is who he claimed to be, and that the things he says about God are true — those beliefs are at the basis for all the other figuring out I’m doing.
I hope that when you hit a point when you’re deciding where you anchor your beliefs, you’ll explore Jesus.
The very fact that most of us search for something bigger than ourselves is certainly very telling. As Lewis himself wrote, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
Thomas Christianson is a pastor, professor, and writer in Baltimore, Maryland. He’s the author of a new ebook, “Making My Faith Practical,” as well as a graduate of Regent University with a master’s degree in practical theology. He blogs regularly at thomaschristianson.com.