I was asking myself that question a little bit ago. And I believe anyone who is either considering following Jesus, or who is already following Him, should ask themselves that question repeatedly. For if we can provide reasons that are secure to us, and at least believable to others, it will strengthen our faith as we continue to seek Him. I believe challenging oneself is the number one way to grow in life. And that routinely requires us to question what we know or have come to believe.
Of course, my belief in Jesus started with being raised by two parents who also believe in Him. Had I not been raised as a Christian, maybe I still would’ve found my way to Him, but it probably would’ve been much less likely that I’d be where I am today in terms of my belief system. Although, I was never forced into believing in Jesus, or being a Christian. Once I reached the age where I could make decisions for myself, I decided to keep my faith. Although I know plenty of people who have chosen to abandon any faith they had. And I often understand and empathize with why they did, even though I wholeheartedly disagree with their thinking. I’ve heard horror stories of friends and others who were forced by their parents and families to be Christians. And then the parents wonder why their children then rebel. People don’t take kindly to having beliefs of any kind shoved down their throat. Call it a human thing. People who force others to be Christians are doing a few things wrong:
- They aren’t being encouraging, and allowing others to come to Jesus on their own.
- The people being forced to believe wind up hating and mocking Christianity not because they hate Jesus. If people truly knew Jesus and opened their hearts and minds to Him, they would love Him. Guaranteed. But because they associate Christianity with the traumatic experience of being browbeaten into everything, they dig in deep and resist. And I absolutely do not blame them.
- The parents or authority figures don’t realize, or they willfully ignore, that it is NOT their choice at the end of the day for that person to believe in Jesus. The choice to actively follow and love Jesus is each person’s choice, and their choice alone. Period. Free of coercion and shame.
Thankfully, my parents have guided my spiritual journey, always reassured me that God loves me. Especially in my weakest moments, and they have often loved me in ways that Jesus loves me. They made sure I know who Jesus is. But not once did I feel forced to follow Him. I was raised to have plenty of freedom.
I see Jesus in nature and humanity
After the foundation was laid by my parents for my growth as a Christian, naturally I grew up and started to question things on my own. Why exactly was I put here? Where is Jesus if I cannot physically see Him? Why believe in someone I cannot physically see with my own two eyes? I often ask myself those questions still to this day. But as I have gone through life, I have realized that I was put here to try my best to emulate Jesus and show His love with the gifts He has given me: A heart that truly cares for others, a gift and passion for sharing Him with others through my ability as a writer, and the ability to just be there and listen to people nonjudgmentally when they need me.
I see Jesus in nature. It’s hard to completely explain, but I look at it this way: It is far more difficult for me to have faith in the belief that humanity is just a lucky roll of the cosmic dice and that everything went just right on its own for us to be here. I may have faith in God, but I do not have enough faith in human reason to say with a straight face, and complete conviction, that there is no God.
Someone set everything in motion, and has left His handiwork here for us to discover and figure out as a way of pointing us to Him. Never mind that we will never know everything there is to know.
I also find it interesting how all of society, whether they believe or not, gets angry at the most heinous crimes, such as murder, child molestation and sexual assault. To me there is one reason for that, and it goes back to this:
“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my People.” (Jeremiah 31:33)
Whether people acknowledge God or not is irrelevant when it comes to this. His law of what is right or wrong within society is within every human being. We don’t need human laws to tell us this.
On the lighter side of things, I see Jesus in those I love, and in certain professions. Check out a past blog post on it here.
I also see Him in those who are struggling, believe it or not. While I unfortunately sometimes fail at recognizing Him in those who struggle, those times I DO see Him and want to help others, I remember this verse as well:
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for the least of my brothers, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)
Jesus is everywhere. We just need to look around, and allow ourselves to have an open heart.
How hard is it to truly believe?
Is it sometimes hard for me to believe that a Jewish man who walked the earth 2,000 years ago is God in the flesh? Of course. I’m not going to lie and say that faith in Jesus is easy. It hasn’t been and isn’t often easy. The road to true faith is hard. It’s painful. Full of doubt, fear, and sometimes impatience and anger at Him. And I am still on the road. But every time I have stuck it out and stayed with God, He has never failed me. Not once.
But I can understand and empathize with why other people may doubt or not believe. Ordinary humans don’t perform miracles. They don’t leave the world behind having never sinned. And they certainly don’t rise from the dead once they have died!
But I am encouraged by two things: Those who physically saw Jesus in person doubted Him. And all those who had the courage to die for their belief in Him weren’t all insane or otherwise crazy.
Even Jesus’ followers who saw Him with their own two eyes, physically touched Him, and who were near him, still doubted Him. Ever hear of Doubting Thomas? 😉
Plus Jesus’ otherwise strongest followers often failed Him too. Look at Peter. He’s now a Saint in Heaven. But while He was here, he often stuck his foot in his mouth and said the wrong thing. And worst of all, at the Last Supper, he said that he was ready to go to prison or die with Jesus…only to deny Him three times hours later! But through His sacrifice on the Cross, and His grace, Jesus forgave Peter. That gives me hope.
Lastly, there have been many, many martyrs over the years. People who have died for their faith in Jesus. Sometimes they died in terrible and agonizing ways. Whenever I remember this fact, I ask myself this question as a reaffirmation of my faith: Surely these people weren’t all crazy, mentally ill, or lying, were they? It’s at that point that I also remember some common sense: Sane people don’t go to their deaths willingly over something they know to be a lie. Have there been martyrs who were what society would consider certifiably insane? Probably. But by the same token, there have also been completely sane people who have willingly died for Jesus. Why would they do that unless what they believed in was the absolute truth?
Why I remain a Christian
Through all of life’s trials so far, I have not given up my faith. Sure, sometimes I am incredibly weak in my faith. And at times like this, I am stronger and I realize that Jesus loves me in spite of all my brokenness. But I stay because like I said earlier, I do not purely believe in human reason. To me, doing so is hubris.
And like I have said many, many times on this blog and elsewhere, I truly believe that Jesus is who He says He is: God incarnate, and the only one who can forgive sins. He has paid our penalty on the Cross.
I truly admire how devout many Muslims, Jews, and others are in their faiths. I could take a cue from them to be much more disciplined in my faith as a Christian. But the true uniqueness of the Christian faith is this: We cannot earn Heaven by how good we are, or how closely we follow the rules of our faith. That won’t cover our sins. Jesus earned our way into Heaven by being our sacrifice on the Cross.
Granted, that does not give us a “get out of jail free card” to keep sinning and disobeying God. But I think one of the ways people can do a better job of staying on the path (even though we’ll all often fail), is to truly meditate on what Jesus’ sacrifice means for all of us. Especially during those times we recognize how truly broken we are. Again, I truly respect the reverence Jews, Muslims and others have for their faith and how they practice it. I’ve even checked out a library book on the history and basics of Judaism, to familiarize myself with the “parent faith” of Christianity. What little I know of Judaism so far is really interesting!
But the faith that Jesus encouraged us to put in Him is the ONLY faith where God assumed human form. He loved us so dearly that He freely chose to come to Earth in the person of Jesus. He wanted to understand us on our deepest, most human levels. He felt joy, sorrow, pain, anger, temptation, and countless other emotions. And He went to the Cross willingly as our perfect sacrifice. If there’s a more beautiful message of love from God to humanity, I haven’t found it yet!