What is the pathway to real faith? This is one of the questions I have been mulling over in my mind as I have read and studied this past couple of years. This is a question asked by both people of faith and people who consider themselves not religious. Perhaps you are at a place where you are seeking God. You have seen a real living faith in some of the people around you and you are trying to find out how to get it yourself. Perhaps you are already a christian and you are trying to understand how you can most effectively share your faith with the people in your life. From many different angles, many different people ask this question quite often.
One of the major modern emphases that christians today have taken is to respond to the criticism and skepticism of the culture around with proofs and logical explanations on why it really does make sense to believe in God. This is an important emphasis since it is impossible to truly believe in something that you don’t consider factually accurate. However, those of us who have applied themselves to this task of reading and researching the historical and rational basis for the faith have often come to the simple observation that facts alone are not enough. Indeed, it seems like the arguments for christianity on the internet often result in more arguing and disagreement than convincing people who do not believe in Jesus to give their lives to him.
Perhaps it is helpful to see this issue from another angle. What is christian faith in the first place? The specific claim that the Bible makes is that becoming a christian is not merely about adhering to a set of ideas or practices. Rather, the very heart of the message of the Bible is that God is working through all of history to restore with us the broken relationship that exists between us and him. His humble love and mercy are the driving force that move him to give himself away to redeem us from our lost state of living in a world his universe, as if he does not exist. He loves us. He hurts to see us in our lost state. He labors to get us back, to show us himself. So, at the heart the whole process is not merely encountering an idea, but encountering a person.
How does this change our view of the question? Well, it helps us to see that meeting a person is much more than merely reading a description of who they are. Making arguments about why it is rational to believe in God and explaining what he is like is definitely an important first step. But if you really want to be an effective witness to people around you about Jesus, you must be a person through whom people meet him, not just his ideas. You must show them Jesus, if they are to ever meet him. In all that you say or do, you can’t just stay on the outside of faith with the critics, trying to help them see the answers to their questions. You must also speak from the inside and let them taste the life and love that God has made real in your life.
If you are questioning christianity from the outside, this is a critical thing for you to catch as well. If God is real, ultimately you must meet him to know him. You must see the reality of his person if you are ever to be captivated by him. You must push past the rational arguments (though they are a very important part in the process) to the heart of the story and meet the person of Jesus. This is the ultimate place where christianity is proven true or false. Either Jesus was who he claimed to be or he is not. And the only way to find out is to read his actual story, to meet his person, to see his life in the lives of those who genuinely follow him, and to see for yourself.