Faith and Why I am a Christian
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb 11:1).
Faith involves assurance and conviction. It lies under our hope and is the demonstrated trust we have in the reality of what we cannot see. The goal of our faith is stated this way: “and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.” (1 Pet 1:8-9).
Yet on what does our faith depend? Is our faith to be a thin facade that can fall apart at the first challenge? Is it breakable and lost when we see that others fall away or don’t act right? Is it built on weak foundations that easily crumble under investigation? Let’s at least spell out a few issues:
1. Faith is not dependent upon having all the answers to every difficulty or problem. Indeed there is far more that we do not know than that we do know.
2. Faith is not dependent upon being able to explain every difficulty in the Bible. There are difficulties that I have struggled with like anyone else. That should not cause us to lose faith.
3. Faith is not dependent upon the way other Christians act. Christians are flawed people and they will, like any people, disappoint. I am one of them.
4. Faith IS dependent upon the fundamental nature of the gospel story: Jesus died on a cross, was buried, rose again, and was seen by multiple witnesses. If that is false, none of the rest of it matters. That’s Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians 15:12-19.
5. Faith has a solid base. For instance, here are a few reasons for faith of which I am personally convinced:
Christianity is a total worldview, not just pieces of information here and there, and it makes sense of what we know about reality because it is able to tie the various aspects of reality together into a cohesive whole based upon foundational premises. This includes the problem of suffering, the human ability to think, the dignity of humanity, the need for love and hope, the desire for justice, and the human need to reach out for something greater and higher. Far more can be said here.
It’s based upon a crucifixion story that neither Jewish nor Gentile cultures would have invented or accepted unless there is more to the story. It was foolishness to the Gentiles and a stumbling block to the Jews. The idea that a Jewish peasant from an obscure place in Galilee would be crucified (the most shameful, humiliating death as a criminal) then proclaimed raised and exalted as the Savior of the world makes no sense for any group to invent at that time. Yet here it is, and it cannot be brushed off as if it came out of nowhere for no reason.
Resurrection is the “more to the story.” Paul’s argument, written close to the events, is neither easily dismissed historically nor can it be reasonably explained away as legend. That Paul wrote 1 Corinthians sometime between AD 50-54 (@20 years after the events in question) is acknowledged even by skeptics. Paul’s formulaic statement in 15:1-4 shows that the belief was even earlier and goes back to the events themselves. Saying that this was a later invention just doesn’t work.
The church’s existence is grounded in the resurrection from the beginning. If the resurrection is fable, there would be no reason for the church to have come into existence in the first place. It did not first come into existence then later develop the resurrection; rather, resurrection was its foundation.
In short, I’m a Christian because of the nature of the Gospel story. When I hear that story and place it aside my sinful life, I see not only the truth of it but also the personal need for it. I need the grace that the story encompasses.
This is also why I’m convinced that we need to tell the Gospel story and let it have its effect. Some will hate it and dismiss it as foolish. Others will see that dismissing it is foolish and it needs to be accepted. The soil will show itself for what it is (what kind of soil are we?), but by all means spread the message and let that message do its job.
If we can get the death and resurrection of Jesus settled in our minds, then we can deal with difficulties without having all the answers. We don’t have to put our faith on hold. Regardless of the other issues, the problems with people or anything else, if Jesus was raised from the dead, then we can do what Paul said at the end of a lengthy passage about resurrection:
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor 15:58).
Here is where our faith can finally settle.