What's Keeping You From Believing?
You would think in 2016, that we would be able to believe in just about anything. I mean we can talk and see and have relationships with people who live across the world from us! We can send messages to someone who lives 2,000 miles away in a matter of seconds. Our cars don't need gas. Our phones play music. And our TVs have the internet. Our watches monitor our heart rates and our phones track our locations.
And yet, I think we are now more skeptical than ever.
I've had a couple people recently say this to me:
"I want to believe...I just can't."
Two people. Very different people. At different times. In different conversations.
Exact same comment.
The conversations I was having with both of them (at different times, separately, in different places), were regarding faith.
Both of them said they liked what the overall concept of Jesus and Christianity was about, but they just couldn't intellectually believe it.
It's as if our advances in technology and "intellect" have made us doubt anything we can't ourselves create with the technology we have or the science we know to be true.
But isn't that what the future is supposed to be about? Believing in the unseen. Creating the unseen.
And yet, we can't make ourselves believe that Jesus died for our sins. That He was the son of God. And that He defeated death.
An event that we don't even have to create. But instead an actual event that happened, that people saw, and that they took the time to write down and record for us to have today.
But I understand.
It is incredibly difficult to believe that someone walked this earth, claimed to be God, died, and then ROSE again.
Saying that, I want to provide a little bit of information for those who struggle with this that has helped me consistently overcome this struggle with doubt that the devil also places in front of me on occasion: (if historical facts bore you...just read from point #3 and on. Be sure to watch the videos.)
1. God is Good
With things like cancer, terrorism, rape, and slavery, it is SO hard to believe that God is good.
But here's what isn't hard to believe: we live in a fallen world.
It's cliche and it's as old as Genesis 3 (literally). But it is the most obvious thing one could see when they take a step back and look at the suffering that takes place on a regular basis.
So why did God let humanity fall away from Him?
Look at it this way, if you're married or plan to be married one day, and the person you were planning to marry or are married to, forced you into that marriage, would you still want to be married to them?
You might be okay with it. But it wouldn't be the same as falling in love with someone who didn't force you to love them, right?
Well marriage, is the same kind of relationship that God wants with His people (us). But He doesn't want to force us to love Him. He knows a relationship with Him is the way to joy and purpose and fulfillment, but He also knows that forcing us into a relationship with Him wouldn't allow us to understand that. So He gave us free will. In hopes, that we would choose Him, but with full knowing that if we didn't, He would send a way for us to be reunited with Him (Jesus).
2. The Resurrection
Couldn't Jesus's body have been stolen? What if the apostles just made up the story of the resurrection in the gospels just to prove that Jesus was who He said He was?
These are real, intellectual questions. They are questions I have struggled with. Here's my intellectual rationale: (actually it's not "mine", it's someone else's who's actually done all this research)
During this time period, if the body of Jesus was actually stolen and the person or persons who fought off the guards (we are unsure of the number, but it could have been a lot) at the tomb had actually done so, and then proceeded to roll away the stone and take the body and do away with it... SOMEONE would have written about it. This event would have been too large to not be documented during this time period.
Secondly - since the incredulous event of Christ followers standing up to the Roman guards, defeating them, and running away with the body of Jesus was not documented - if the resurrection was still somehow a made up fairy tale that the apostles wanted people to believe, the authors of the gospels would not have made the first people to the tomb, women (Mk. 16:9). Why? Because during that time period of the middle-eastern culture, women running around, claiming that the tomb of Jesus was empty, would not have been believed. They would have been ignored or called crazy. Unless, 1) the tomb actually was empty and 2) other people saw Him.
Not only did Jesus rise from the grave and defeat death, but people saw Him. They wrote about seeing Him. And they were crucified, because they said they saw Him (John 20:19-20). And they said that they believed He was the son of God, the risen Lord, the Savior of humanity.
They didn't just drink some crazy Kool-aid y'all, because they followed some crazy person. They didn't join a cult that persecuted other types of people. They lived humbly, walked justly, and loved mercy. And if that wasn't enough, almost all of the apostles, were crucified for what they said they had seen.
They followed a man who claimed He was God and proved it to be true, wrote about everything they experienced, and tried to tell as many people as they could because of the incredible transformation they had experienced - the incredible reunion with God that they had; and that others could have too.
3. Miracles Still Happen
Perhaps the greatest piece of evidence that we have that Jesus Christ is Lord, that God is good, and that the gospel is true, is the life transforming miracle work that His Holy Spirit still performs today.
The greatest evidence I can give to support the claim that what the Bible says is true, is the very work that Jesus has done in my own life.
I grew up Christian without really knowing what that meant. I didn't really understand the relational aspect of Christianity. I did the things I was "supposed to do" because I thought I was supposed to do them. Not because I loved Jesus or understood what He did for me. Instead, I wanted Him to do things for me - make my decisions, make the bad things go away.
When I went to college I decided to try and really figure out if what I was supposed to do was worth it. And I did what I wasn't supposed to do. I got a fake ID. Lied to my parents on occasion. And had far too many nights where I would black out and not know what had happened the next morning. Nights where I put myself in unsafe and unhealthy situations.
And yet nights that were glorified by many of my peers. Nights that I see culture to continue to glorify in music, television, and movies.
By the grace of God I remained relatively unharmed from those nights. And by the Grace of God, He pulled me out of the college environment I had created for myself and brought me to nursing school.
(And my fake ID wasn't good enough for Uptown - praise God).
God then put in my life, Watermark Community Church. A church that did things more differently than I had ever seen. A church that proved that God's word was not only true, but important and applicable.
It's been here at Watermark where I have been transformed by the living Christ. It is here where I have seen the Holy Spirit's work, not only in my life, but in the lives of thousands of other people. It is here where I see, on a daily basis, broken people, come together, to serve a perfect and living God.
No longer do I fall victim to my desires to have the craziest stories. Or my desire to fit in with the party crowd.
And it is not by my own works, but by the incredible work of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I still crave the high that our night life culture raves about, but His spirit is stronger. He is greater. And He is at work in me.
Doubt and questions are important. They're real. And we need to study them. But when you finally are able to see and believe what is true, it will set you free.