The Problem with Belief
I had a great opportunity last evening to spend some time with a group of college-aged co-eds. It was an interesting conversation that we had as we delved into various topics with which our society and culture are enthralled. These young adults are dealing with a bunch of stuff nowadays. As a matter of fact, all of us are being affected by the culture around us as it is changing at such a rapid pace. Moreover, we are being told as Christians that we are “bigoted” or “intolerant” of others because we think that we are “holier than thou.” With this post, I want to explain a couple of problems that we as Christians have with the belief we say that we have.
First, we have a problem with believing that we are right and others are wrong. Society tells us that we are wrong because we have not progressed or evolved with society or the culture around us and we are so judgmental of others and their lifestyles, whatever they may be. In many ways this is the case but in many ways this is not the case. It is the case that Christendom for the most part still believes the Bible to be the Word of God and that does not change. For those of us who have been Christians for a long time our views change as we grow in our understanding and knowledge of the Scriptures. We find in the Bible that God says very plainly that all men need Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. And when we come to the point that we believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead and confess with our mouths that He is Lord then we believe one can and will be saved. It is by faith that we believe this to be true and it is available to all who believe. The point is that we have not progressed in the sense that we believe that “all roads lead to heaven.” No, Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:6). As Christians we believe this to be the only truth that saves someone from their state of sin. This is not a judgmental statement by any means. Rather, it is truth-telling at its finest.
When someone says that we Christians have not evolved with the society or culture around us this is not true. Just look at the people who attend church. There are so many people in the church that look and act like their secularized counterparts. What may look Christian to some is not Christian at all. What we find in some churches is that we have music that attracts a certain “clientele” if you will. The music has lights and some churches even have smoke machines to make it seem as if you are attending a concert somewhere. We call this “worship” because it appears that we are worshiping when we raise our hands and sway with our eyes closed. In this regard we have changed to more of an emotional type “worship service” than a “here’s the facts of what God’s Word is saying” type of service. We have changed in the sense that we want to help people through a “12-Step Program for a Happy and Healthy Home” or “3 Things to Help Your Finances.” Moreover, we no longer disciple people but we “mentor” them instead. The point is this: we have changed with society and the culture around us to look more like a place for you to get charged up so you might be able to make it another week with your family or with your job or with whatever else. The sad reality is that even the message in many ways has changed to fit those in our society and culture. In this regard we are no longer judgmental as some still say. But understand from where I am coming: I believe that this has been detrimental to the church of today.
Second, we have a problem with believing that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone. What I mean by this is that there are people all around us who need to hear and know the Gospel of Jesus Christ but we are unwilling to tell them the Good News of salvation for fear that we will be rejected by them or that we will be downed by them. “Religion is a personal “thing” and each individual has a right to believe whatever it is that they want to believe,” is what I have heard so many times. But is this really the case? I want to suggest to you that it is not the case at all. I am sure that if you asked the rich man who died and went to hell if believing whatever you want is alright his answer would be an unequivocal “No!” (Luke 16:19-31). The Gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone for all time. If it is merely something that we believe but we never tell anyone about it, then are we really exercising true belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior? If we truly believe that the Gospel is for everyone then we should openly confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and help others to come to know Him in the same way we do.
Moreover, we have a problem with the Gospel of Jesus Christ in that we think that it is going to solve all of our problems if and when we believe. But this is not the case necessarily. I believed Jesus Christ for salvation when I was nine years old and now at my age I have discovered that I still have issues that come up in my life. This should come as no surprise to anyone though; after all, Jesus even tells us that we will face trials, tribulations and persecutions for His name’s sake (Mark 13). The problem that we have with believing the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that we think we only have to believe it once and all is good after that. Let me suggest to you that we need the Gospel of Jesus Christ daily! No, this does not imply in the least that we have to be saved over and over again, but it does imply that we need to go back to it daily. In doing so, we will realize what it is that He has truly done for us by dying on the cross according to the Scriptures, being buried, and being raised from the dead according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3, 4).
The problem with belief: what are we to do with it? First, it is absolutely essential that we believe that which is truth. Truth is something that is factual, something that we think about. Truth is something that stands the test of time and is for all generations past, present and future. Truth is something that is absolute and it never changes; it is firm. But where do we find truth? Again, Jesus Christ said that He is the truth. Believing Him to be Truth helps our belief in the sense that we know that He is solid, sure, proven and tested. There is no error in Him nor is there any wavering or waffling in Him. What He says is by necessity true because He is Truth. Moreover, it means that He is totally trustworthy at the same time because He is Truth and His every word is true.
Second, we need to understand that there are absolutes. This society and culture is telling us that there is nothing sure any longer, that there is nothing that is absolute. Let me ask you a question, have you ever seen a dead person? It is absolute truth that when a person dies that they are no longer alive. What about this question, have you ever added 2 + 2? It always equals 4. That is a universal truth everywhere you go. What about the speed of light? It is traveling at 186,282 miles per second and is constant. In other words, the speed of light is inherently the same all of the time which means that it is absolute. What is absolutely and infinitely true is Jesus Christ. He never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Because Jesus Christ is Truth we can claim that what He says is absolute, infinite, proven and tested truth.
Finally, we need to understand that there are consequences to our belief. There is the consequence that people will reject us because we believe Jesus Christ to be “the way, the truth and the life.” There will be those who choose not to be our friends or they will ridicule us; for some, death will occur for believing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We will be hated and called all sorts of names such as “bigots”, “homophobes”, “hate mongers”, etc. And all of this will happen because of the name of Jesus Christ and our belief in Him for salvation. But we need to remember, if the Gospel is true and it is for us then it is also for those who will bring us trials, tribulations and persecutions. Jesus Christ faced it in His day and He said that we, too, would face it in our day.
“Truth is immortal,” Balthar Hubmaier said. Jesus Christ is immortal because He is Truth. I believe this to be true not because it is “my truth.” It is true because it comes from the Supreme Truth, Jesus Christ. When we believe Jesus Christ for salvation and we believe His word to be true because He is Truth and we believe Him to be trustworthy because He is, then we are immortal when we believe Him and trust Him and His message.