Questions are good. A thinking and analytical mind can keep us from falling for falsehood. A skeptical approach can keep our minds sharp and protect us from deception. Yet, the pursuit of truth can end up being more about the pursuit, than the truth. We can get pulled into a vortex of a never-ending search for answers. Will any answers satisfy us? We doubt any answers or explanations that are provided. Or, if we do accept an answer we immediately follow it with another question. We are always one question away from believing! Are we really in the pursuit of truth, or do we just want to stay in a perpetual state of uncertainty?
At some point in life, we all must exercise faith. Faith isn’t limited only to the realm of the spiritual or religious. In many areas of life, we must carefully consider the options and evidence, and then we step forward – not based on absolute certainty, but based on adequate and sufficient reasons to do so. We still have unanswered questions, but faith propels us forward.
Christianity is faith-based and there is no way around that. At some point, we must be willing to jump out of the vortex! Christianity makes the most sense of the world around me and gives me many valid reasons to believe, but yes, there are still puzzling concerns. Yet, this should not hinder belief and we must step out of the vortex and onto solid ground.
The earliest Christians were concerned with accuracy and truth. The historian Luke recorded the early events of Christianity in the New Testament books of Luke and Acts. The opening verses of Luke emphasize eyewitness testimony, careful investigation, and a desire to write an orderly account of events. The apostle Paul in the opening verses of 1 Corinthians 15 likewise emphasizes the truth being carefully passed on from a multitude of eyewitnesses.
We may wish we had lived 2,000 years ago when Jesus was physically on earth, because then it would be so much easier to believe. Or would it be? When Jesus was on earth, some believed but others did not! A man claiming to be God in the flesh? God humbling himself and subjecting himself to death on a cross? Someone coming back to life?
Whether we lived back then or now, this is hard to believe! It is not easy. In Matthew 28:17, just before Jesus gave the Great Commission to his disciples, it says that some worshiped him but others doubted. An amazing series of events had just occurred, and I don’t find it the least bit surprising that some were overwhelmed and not quite sure what to think of all that had transpired! Perhaps they were hallucinating? Perhaps they fell for an elaborate hoax? Perhaps…? It’s the vortex again! We must step out of the vortex and place our faith in Jesus Christ and the Gospel message.
What is the Gospel message?
Sometimes we need to get back to the basics. We can get so caught up in our quest for answers and so sidetracked with peripheral concerns that we forget about the foundational beliefs of Christianity and the big picture of the faith.
God’s Story: God created a perfect world. Humanity sinned and the perfect world was broken. Sin then separated humanity from God. Jesus Christ came to bridge this gap by bearing the penalty for our sin through his death on the cross. Jesus conquered death and came back to life. By placing our faith in Jesus Christ, we can have a relationship with God because Jesus bridged the gap. One day Jesus is coming again but this time as a judge to right all wrongs in the world. He’ll create a new heaven and earth and the world will be perfect once again.
But let’s look more closely at where each of us fall in this story…
The bad news is that you and I are sinful. Romans 3:23 says “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This doesn’t mean we are as bad as we could be! We certainly do good things in life, yet this can’t erase the bad we do. We are still sinners who fall short of God’s glorious perfection. The bad news gets worse, as Romans 6:23 states, “For the wages of sin is death…” – Sin has consequences and earns us a penalty. We are going to die and be eternally separated from God.
But good news bursts onto the scene. Since we cannot make our own way to God, God came to us! Romans 6:23 continues with a wonderful “but” – “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Christ came into the world and bore the penalty for our sin on the cross. Romans 5:8 states, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus died as our substitute or in our place. But Jesus did not stay dead. After 3 days, he came back to life as proof that sin and death had been conquered!
But what shall we “do” with this good news? We need to place our faith in Christ. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Putting your faith in Christ means trusting Him to save you. It means transferring your trust from yourself – your analytical mind, your abilities, your good deeds – to trusting Christ alone. It is not about you, but about what God has done for you in Christ.
Won’t you trust Him? Step out of the vortex. Hebrews 11:6 states “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” When we step out in faith, I believe God will make more of the details clear to us. We may still have some unanswered questions, but faith will bring more light and understanding to our path.