Why do believers believe?
I recently read an article written by an agnostic, who neither believes nor disbelieves in God. Briefly, his point is that he would believe if he had a reason to do so, but he finds none. He remains neutral.
This leads me to ask myself, not for the first time, why do I believe in God? What are my reasons? Are they logical, or just emotional? Are they something else? Most of all, can my faith be shaken? When doubts creep in, how do I resolve them?
I do believe, but not because someone told me to – saying that I’d go to Hell if I didn’t. (Can belief be forced?) Nor, did anyone recite to me, the reasons for belief. Nobody persuaded me by argument. (I am reminded of Acts 26:28 -- Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.) If argumentation could persuade me to so consequential a thing as to believe in God, then could not also, a well-crafted argument dissuade me? Reason and logic are useful tools in my life, but must they, therefore, be the masters of my faith?
Is faith an emotion? Do I fear disbelief? Am I afraid to die into nothingness, to never again think, know or feel anything? What if I die, and discover that the afterlife is as uncertain as this life? (As one person quipped, he was afraid that in the next life, he would have to get a job.)
Does faith answer all my questions? Can I explain why God allows the persecution and suffering of innocent people? Can I fully explain why Jesus Himself suffered, bled, and died on the Cross? How did His doing so save me from Hell? (I am reminded of Genesis 22:2, in which God commanded the prophet Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice, as a burnt offering, but then stayed his hand at the last moment, saying that God Himself would provide the sacrifice.)
Can I explain why, when Adam and Eve were the first humans, there were already people living in the Land of Nod, to the East of Eden? Can I explain why, if the world is only six thousand years old, God made it look to be billions? (Might there be more than one dimension of time, one mathematical and the other perceptual?)
No. I cannot answer those kinds of questions. Why, then, do I believe in God?
Before we attempt to explain to anyone why we believe, we must first explain what belief is, and is not. Belief in God is not something about which one can be conditional or uncertain. One either has faith or does not. We’re not “pretty sure” that God exists. We know it.
Ask this: Do you believe that you exist? Could anyone persuade you that you don’t exist? If they did persuade you of such nonsense, would your life become better or worse for acting on that belief?
Each of us knows that he or she is real. We are not figments of any imagination. We are not illusions having illusions. While philosophers may have interesting discussions about such topics, most of us cut through all that. We live our lives based on practical concerns.
We do not just think we are real, not in the sense of merely believing it—we know for a certainty that we are real. We know because we experience ourselves directly. Our consciousness is the only observed phenomenon that observes itself, and we observe ourselves from within ourselves.
There is no physical explanation for this. There is no scientific evidence for our inward experience—our inward experience of experience. Like two mirrors, each reflecting the other, there could be no sense if they had nothing else to reflect, no purpose in such a reflection.
Each of us has an inner sense of purpose and meaning, of something greater than ourselves. To ignore that inner sense is to darken one’s life, to seek only the moment’s pleasure, to rely only on emotion for one’s moral code, not on eternal principle.
How did I come by faith, this invaluable, life-altering condition? I didn’t. I did not bring myself here. No person gave it to me. Faith is the free gift of God. That is the one and only way anyone ever has it. No one can earn it; we can only choose whether to accept it or reject it.
I rejected it, for many years, but the Holy Spirit never gave up on me. Finally, one day, Jesus in the Spirit said to me, you have tried everything else. Are you willing to give me a chance?
I did not say, yes. Instead, I said, what other choice do I have? (I later discovered in John 6:67-68 67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? 68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.)
So, if there is a why, to my faith, that is it. Once one has accepted the gift of faith in God, there is no place else to go. I am stuck on Him, and joyfully so.
Image: Pixabay / Pixabay License
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