Are you prepared to search for answers to the hard questions about the Christian Faith?
When one day a hairstylist talked about faith, I asked if she believed in Jesus. She replied, “Oh, yes. I believe in Jesus. In fact, I think of him as my brother. I also believe we can learn some good things from Hinduism, and I like a lot of stuff from New Age, too. I sort of just pull the good from each religion and make my own, you know?”
Yes, I did know. In fact, more and more over the past thirty years, I’ve encountered people who mix and match beliefs to their own liking, completely at ease with the logical contradictions in their self-contrived belief systems.
The cultural scene was different when I was a zealous ten-year old believer in Christ. I recall arguing with a Church of Christ friend about whether a person had to be baptized to be saved. The discussion became rather heated, and my mom stepped in to calm things down. But at least I knew what we were arguing about, and both the contender and I respected the validity of the Bible. Here in the 21st century, the debates aren’t about which doctrine is biblically true but about whether absolute truth exists at all.
These days I find myself thinking twice before sharing the gospel because I get stopped even before getting to the part about Jesus dying for our sins. The moment I mention that God loves someone, the listener interrupts to tell me she doesn’t believe in God, or at least, not God as the Personal Creator.
Or, I try to share my personal experience of coming to faith in Jesus Christ and the listener says, “Well, that’s good if it works for you.” None of my evangelism training has equipped me to respond to the contemporary mindset that has no biblical point of reference and prefers inclusive spirituality rather than exclusive doctrines.
People may not be able to articulate what they do believe, but they know they don’t believe in Christianity, and they vehemently oppose the narrow-minded Christians who insist that faith in Christ provides the only way to salvation and heaven. They wonder how we can be so arrogant to push our beliefs on everyone else and blithely accept the fairy tale of Jesus Christ described in the Bible.
Adding to the confusion is the fact that many who claim the name of “Christian” bear little resemblance to the biblical description of a Christian. They wear the label while proclaiming a blatantly non-Christian worldview, arguing that Christ is a way but not the only way, redefining what it means to believe in Jesus, and insisting we should be tolerant of other religions since we’re all headed to the same place anyway.
No wonder genuine believers have become hesitant to openly share their faith. We don’t want to offend. But is there more to it than that? We fear because we have no answer to the challenges people raise. We avoid the questions because we aren’t sure there are answers. We think that faith, in order to be faith, requires us to suspend logic and just believe.
We fail to assess the cost of our silent acquiescence and unwillingness to seek answers for the hard questions about faith, both to the lost, as well as to our own faith. The non-believer remains without hope, separated from God. We as believers limp along as our seedling doubts take root and grow until they cripple our witness and our growth.
We wonder if the recent news report about finding the bones of Jesus is true. We suspect our faith is built on a carefully crafted, albeit consoling, myth about Jesus, written by power-hungry charlatans. Science doesn’t permit miracles, so there’s really no way the God-man Jesus died on the cross and rose again on the third day. Jesus becomes an ethereal do-gooder whose example we should follow. Too embarrassed to ask for help, we slink into silence. Though we’re not sure we believe anymore, we go through the motions of the Christian life, dying on the inside.
And then comes a defining moment in our lives. Someone betrays us. A loved one dies. We lose our job. A child we have reared to fear the Lord goes his own way. God can’t be who Christianity claims Him to be because a good and all-powerful God wouldn’t allow this to happen. Our faith crumbles in a heap of disillusionment and anger, and we retreat from God and His people.
If only we had run to the Savior, He would have embraced our questions, for He is the One who urged us to seek and keep on seeking, promising we would find Him, if we seek Him wholeheartedly. He is the Jesus who, when a curious questioner named Andrew asked where He stayed, responded, “Come and see.” He is the Jesus who a stunned Samaritan woman invited incredulous townspeople to “come and see.” And He is the Jesus whose angel met the grieving women at the tomb and invited them to check the evidence of His resurrection with the words, “Come, see. . . .” This Jesus does not fear questions. He invites us to scrutinize the evidence and decide whether He is all He claimed to be, and to whomever asks the questions, whether it be the wavering heart of one of His own or the belligerent heart of the skeptic, this Jesus invites, “Come and see.”