by Steven Gledhill for FREEdom from MEdom Project
To believe or not believe? Is there a creator? Does God exist? Is God alive? Does God matter?
What—or who—powers the light in an otherwise dark existence?
Is God involved in what happens here? Is God interested? If so, is God interested in me? Why believe in God? Why not believe in God? What gets in the way of me believing in God?
What do I risk if I am wrong about God one way or the other? What’s at stake, here?
What happens should the light go out?
What makes the most sense and what does not? What about all of the stuff that cannot be explained? What really is tipping the scales one way or the other?
How can you know that God is real… and that he knows you and loves you?
Accepting the reality of God tends to lie in the perception of who and what God is.
I suspect that those who do not believe in God, tend to not believe because they cannot believe in God. It isn’t that they don’t believe. They won’t believe. It isn’t so much that they resist believing in the existence of God as much as they refuse to believe in the existence of God. How can God exist if the very idea of God makes me at all uncomfortable?
Why is it that those who don’t… I mean, won’t… believe in God are so passionate in their opposition? Why care so much about something if it doesn’t exist in the first place? Why care about being judged by those who believe in this “God” that doesn’t exist if they’re the fools?
“No one… not even God… dare hold me accountable! No one… not even God… dare tell me what to do and what not to do. No one… not even God… dare dictate to me what is best for me. Who can know me better than I know me? Only I know what is best for me.”
Is that right? Where then lies the hope for any kind of mercy from this hell on earth? Where then lies the hope for redemption from imminent suffering and death? Where then lies the hope for anything more than this? Where then lies the hope for a better life?
The Scriptures say, “If you hear his voice today, don’t be stubborn like those who rebelled.” Hebrews 3:15 (CEV)
With all that is happening in the universe and in the world, how do I know that God is interested in me and loves me? What if in the same way we love what we make and try to repair and restore what we’ve made when it breaks, God loves what he has made and repairs and restores what he’s made from it’s broken condition to whole once again? What if like loving parents that forgive their wayward children when they return, God forgives you and me when we go our way and then return to him?
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” —A.W. Tozer
Why is God Necessary?
Why do you or I need God?
Well, consider the alternative. If everyone who ever lived, loved their neighbors as themselves, perhaps we wouldn’t feel the need for God. We would find contentment in gladly taking care of each other. Instead, we are selfish. We don’t know how to love ourselves in ways that are healthy enough to love each other.
So then, flawed by selfish desire and motivation, we are prone to selfish mistakes. We are entitled and corrupt. We then on some level contribute to the evil in the world. Because we contribute to the problem of evil in the world, we are all subject to its wrath as a logical consequence. Our lives are therefore vulnerable to infection. Evil is a malignant cancer that is always terminal. No one’s immune.
Imagine the oceans have been filled by wrongdoing, one bucket of water at a time, for at least thousands of years. Over the course of my life, perhaps I have dumped a backyard-sized pool of water into the sea of evil. By comparison, a dictator like Hitler or Stalin may have dumped a large lake’s worth of water into the sea of evil. In any case, I contributed something, and continue to through selfish behavior. My selfish behavior has the potential for harm to me, and harm against you. Your selfish behavior can cause you harm and be harmful to me.
The waters in the sea of evil by nature find their way back to me, and back to you. Evil may come back, metaphorically speaking in the form of rain. It might rush on us like a hurricane or a tsunami. The thing about evil is that it doesn’t care who contributed what in filling the sea. Evil is not partial to anything or anyone. Evil doesn’t care who it hurts, or kills for that matter. When it comes it comes. When it rains it pours. Its floods can be devastating. Evil is a tempest without even a drop of mercy.
We all contribute to the problem of evil. Yet, when evil crashes in on us, we tend to blame God. Where was God? How could God allow the despicable to occur? Blaming God for the evil we contribute to justifies rejecting God; perhaps even denying God’s very existence.
Our reality is that we need God. You know, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” We need to be loved by God to be truly capable of loving ourselves, and in turn, our neighbor. It’s what I need; it’s what you need; it’s what the world needs. It’s what we have always needed from the beginning of time.
Reconciling Sensible Truth with Faith and Religion
Maybe you are reading this and you’re struggling with it because you’ve been scorned by religion or burned by religious people whose rhetoric is not in line with their behavior. I get it, but this is bigger than that. This is less about what sounds or feels religious and far more about recognizing what makes the most sense.
Why does religious banter commonly emote such hostility and tension if it’s supposed to be a cerebral thing… you know… so-called intellectuals (scholars and scientist types) making their claims to truth about our existence while interjecting vigorous, and perhaps even venomous, attacks against faith, religion, God, and (especially) Jesus Christ? Why is faith and religion such a hotly contested topic that so many are uncomfortable with it? It’s not exactly a loaded weapon aimed right at their soul or anything, is it?
So, again, why so intense? Why so angry? Why this need to be right… to prove we’re wrong… to convince us, “the enemy,” that believing in God is so ridiculous? Why care so much about us?
Perhaps, what it’s really about is the emotional conflict from within that is the catalyst for such contentious debate. Those who take issue with faith, again, are very passionate about their “rational” arguments. They accuse “believers” of being dogmatic about their faith, yet it seems those opposing faith are just as fanatical in their need to persuade believers to stop believing in something they cannot see.
Rather than take on the intellectual sensibilities of faith, those who passionately oppose the ideals and principles of faith attack not faith, but religion as though it was the embodiment of the moral standards and causes they oppose. It’s their way to justify the pursuit of what they desire and covet that otherwise are morally suspect. Should God oppose their behavior in any way then it is beholden to them to oppose God.
Since what is desired and coveted doesn’t entirely satisfy, it becomes necessary to encroach the moral challenges waged by the assertion that such selfish pursuits are inherently vain. What matters ultimately are the pursuits that have the most certain and sustained benefit to best quality of life; the way of life that is most enjoyed with far more to gain while minimizing cost and the risk of loss.
Please, do not be persuaded by emotional arguments that are in actuality offensive to your deepest intellectual sensibilities; that which you already know to be truth. Allow the light of what you already know at your core to shine brightly on those deceptions lurking in the shadows so that when they are sprung will not catch you unaware.
God didn’t create religion, people did. What God created is relationship and relationship is what living is all about. The questions raised here should not be dismissed because of barriers erected by religion. Putting up walls doesn’t do anything but veil sensible truth. The answers to these questions will inevitably lead to choices about what to do about them.
The essence of faith is to be embraced and experienced… not feared and thereby averted. When it’s real, you can even be religious about it’s application and experience… not because you have to… but because you want to.
“Happiness and rest are what all pursue. But the things of the world, wherein most seek it, they can never afford it; they are laboring and spending themselves in vain. Christ invites you to come to him and offers you this peace that so much excels all that the world can afford. Truth is the agreement of our ideas with the ideas of God; the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied.” —Jonathan Edwards
Once concluding that God is real and alive, originator of all creation, the catalyst and life-giver to everything evolving and living, then everything after that is possible. If God created the heavens and the earth and all of the life contained therein, then something like the virgin birth and the resurrection of his son, Jesus, are unquestionably possible. If God continues to be invested and involved in what he has made and loves, it only makes sense to be on his side of things. If God is all that he is, and he is for me and with me, then who or what can prevail against me?
God’s love, once experienced, is most liberating.
I ask you again… What do you risk if you are wrong about God one way or the other? What’s at stake, here?
With all of the news cycling around the world attacking flawed people as a means of discrediting faith and relationship with God, it is essential that we as people of faith fight back, armed with the artillery of common sense. It is incumbent on us to make the ‘belief debate’ a rational one; not an emotional argument injected with religion—the turn off.
This article is my attempt to reach as many as are in within my sphere of influence by breaking through emotional defenses to breach through the walls of intellectual sensibilities. While I did reference Scripture here, the reality is that non-spiritually discerning people don’t have much use for it… YET.
My objective is to confront the alternatives to the reality of God as at least as ridiculous as believing in an invisible God to disarm one’s objections to belief in something they cannot see. If someone who didn’t believe finds it at least somewhat plausible to give faith a chance (because the alternative to faith in God is faith in self in a world gone mad) by the rational objective sensibility presented here, well… it’s a start in the right direction.
If you agree, please pass this along.
Blessings to you.