"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried". - G.K. Chesterton
I used to think that a real man was characterized by all of his successes and his achievements learned from the teachings of his Father. But, by the beautiful example set forth in Jesus, I now know that the true measure of a man is determined by how a man lives his life in response to intense persecution and opposition; choosing to never denounce his faith, and always being obedient to the Father. However, throughout my life I've encountered people that don't accept this truth as something that benefits them, or is of use to the way they understand things to be. Their arguments seems to be centered on (or related to) the question "But what if I want to think for myself?". Let's tackle that question, shedding light on some very important areas of the Christian faith that need to be investigated: 1) The existence of God. 2) Understanding His Will for our lives. God does indeed give us the gift of free will, to utilize our minds to think and to make decisions. The key is to remember that both our thoughts and our decisions must be based off of biblical principles; and that the way we choose to think and to live must be in a manner that brings glory to God, furthers His Kingdom on Earth, and resembles the very same way that Christ lived His life. This is in hopes that the authentic Christian faith can be lived out in a manner that will always be aligned with the will of God for our individual lives (which will, in turn, serve as faithful obedience to what He has willed for us).
In a recent conversation with an atheist, I went about bringing up the aforementioned claims to his arguments against both the existence of God and the validity of Biblical principles set forth in the Christian faith. The young man responded with this declarative statement: "There is no reason to assume that God is any more real than any other supernatural entity proposed throughout the vast course of human history, and therefore, submission to his supposed will becomes incredibly silly".
One of my best friends, and fellow brother in Christ, helped me tackle this situation with a very well-defined, knowledgeable, and accurate answer to this heavily skewed misconception regarding God and the Christian faith. David was a former atheist, who after intensive analysis, in which he did an investigation into both the biblical claims found in Scripture of those of God and the Christian faith, contrasted with subsequent moral claims found in modern culture; came to faith in Christ and is now a Christian with a heart on fire for Christ. So I knew that if any man knew how this atheist felt, it was most certainly David. David's response was: "If you have taken any class about science, math, or art you wouldn’t be able to honestly say that. If you knew the complexity of the world around us in the science/math realm you could never say there wasn't a creator. Even if you haven't had any math/science classes, if you just have eyes and have seen the sheer beauty of creation, then you couldn't say there is no Creator either. You wouldn't assume that if you were walking in the middle of the woods and found a watch that it was just randomly generated out of thin air. No, you would deduce that it was created by someone, and it evidently ended up there somehow. Even in the science realm, most scientists will agree that there is some Creator, and they accept intelligent design. The ones that don't are usually the more ignorant and hard-headed of their field. And so, it isn't a real question of IF we're created, it's just by WHOM. Trust me, this is coming from a former, avid atheist. Therefore, I see it as an extremely logical choice to follow the will of who created everything in the universe".
Wow. I knew David had hit the nail on the head, from both a scientific perspective and a Christian perspective. In David's response, though, I began to really understand something about the thriving culture of Non-Christians that live among us: so many answers to key questions regarding God and the Christian faith are searched for within the realms of science and other worldly areas, but hardly ever in Scripture. I mean think about it, how often do you ever really see people searching for God himself and the truth of God in the only place a man can find Him: In His word. In Scripture. It is amazing to me how God reveals Himself to us in Scripture: through Old Testament promises made to His chosen people, the Israelites, to faithfully deliver them from persecution and provide for them, all the way to the New Testament revelation of His son Jesus Christ, sending him to be a ransom for mankind, pay our penalty for our sins on the cross, and bring us back to a personal relationship with Him. Everything we could ever want to understand about who God is, what He's done, the type of character He possesses, what power and wisdom He has, and so much more can all be found in Scripture. That's still not all there is to it though. Romans 6: 1-2 tells us "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?" Even if we do decide to make the choice to truly believe in the existence of God, and in what Christ did for us on the Cross, and we receive salvation, we can't just go on living as we always have. And see, that's where a majority of the questions that atheists and Non-Christians raise cain about are derived from. They don't want to accept the fact that, even if they should decide to believe in the existence of God and believe in biblical principles found in Scripture, that those things carry along with them the understanding that change is now in order. Those people want to continue acting as they do, believing the things that they believe, and enjoying their present lifestyles. To accept the existence of God and truly believe that Christ is Lord shouldn't just change the way we see things and understand things to be, it should change our very behavior. It should change the way we live our lives. We shouldn't possess the desire, even for one second, to go back to the way we used to see things or to the way we used to behave or carry ourselves. In our old selves and our old ways of living, we were slaves to sin. It reigned in our lives and we were easy victims of it's evil hold on us. But when we choose to acknowledge the existence of God, along with recognizing and confessing Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are free from sin and made alive in Christ. But, once again, it doesn't stop there. Change must occur. In our hearts. In our values and morals. In our thoughts. In our lives. We begin to understand who we're really living for: God, and His purposes for us. This is where the will of God for our lives comes into play in a big way for us.
Choosing to follow the will of God does bring with it a demand to be faithfully obedient to his divine and sovereign will; which can only be accomplished when living a life centered around biblical principles, the likes of which can be found in Scripture. Amazingly enough, God actually tells us himself in Scripture, through the Holy Spirit, that what is said and explained in Scripture (by means of the OT prophets, the NT apostles, etc.) is exactly what He has intended for us to know, to understand, and to carry out. For as 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work".
The truth is, following the will of God in your life isn't always easy. It can require sacrifice, or having to do something you're not comfortable with, or leaving an area you've been in for awhile, and who know's what else. But, never forgetting that the purpose of what will be asked of you by God, will always be greater than the doubts you have about it's validity and truth, will always keep your heart set on the task at hand in the way that God wants you to be. We are to follow in obedience. We are to follow in trust. We are to follow in love and in respect of knowing that God knows what is best. The following Scripture verse is the best thing I can give to you to help you understand God's reasons for what He has asked of us and our constant tendecy to try and understand those reasons. If this can comfort you, then please let it: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways". -Isaiah 55:8. We need to accept the fact that we can't understand God the way we always are going to want to understand Him throughout our Christian faith, but we can always trust and hope and be obedient to the fact that He has a plan for us, He has a will for our lives, and we have a purpose and a place in His Kingdom.
I really hope that this discussion has encouraged you, the reader. Whether you are a fellow brother or sister in Christ alongside me in our Christian walk of faith, an atheist who rejects God and the truth found in Scripture, or merely a person desiring to know God or what the Christian faith is all about, my goal in creating this specific post today is to let you know that everything you could ever want to know or to understand always begins with a question. A single question. You know, sometime's it okay to doubt. With doubts we question things, and with questions we get answers, and with answers we grow. Even for Christians, doubting is a part of growing in our faith. God never tells us to accept blindly. He made us curious creatures; we're always asking and wondering and getting into things, and there's a reason for that. Never be afraid to ask the burning questions locked deep within your heart, especially if they have to do with God and with the Christian faith. There really are answers to them. You just have to be willing to search for them, to accept things you might never have thought could be true, and most importantly: to listen. :)
I pray that God continues to shower us all with His love and with His grace. And, as always, as I continue to pursue God's grace throughout the course of my life, I pray I never forget that it's always okay to ask God questions. After all, all I ever want is to grow to know Him more.