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To believe or not to believe

“In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe an enough shadows to blind those who don’t.”

It was the French mathematician and philosopher, Blaise Pascal, who spoke those words. They call to our attention to something that is too often overlooked—God doesn’t force faith on anyone. Nobody is overwhelmed into believing against their will. Instead, they make a conscious decision to go in a certain direction based upon what is important to them. In the end, faith is a matter of making the choice to trust God.

I think that’s important because it seems to me that both believers and unbelievers act as if the other person has parked their brains if they don’t embrace what the other does. Not only is this not helpful, it misrepresents the reality of the situation. Think about a child at school. One of their school mates is being picked on. The child has the choice whether to join in or not. If they do, they’ll be rewarded by “fitting in” with their peers and make themselves a less likely target for such treatment. If they choose not to, they’ll be rewarded by knowing they did what was right and the person being picked on will appreciate them. Either way, there are “reasons” for whatever action they choose.

In our desire to see more people become disciples of Jesus, we turn to apologetics and Christian evidences to help people see the many strong reasons to have faith in God. This is good. In our enthusiasm, we sometimes conclude that anyone who chooses not to be a disciple is an irrational person. This is bad. First of all, if making a wrong decision is the criteria for irrationality; then we’re all irrational. More to the point though, we’re ignoring the fact that their choice not to follow Jesus isn’t arbitrary—they have their reasons. For us to disagree with those reasons is natural; to pretend they don’t exist—well, that’s not a very “reasonable” course of action.

Why is all of this important? Not only does it have to do with respecting people (and their God-given right to choose), but it will also prevent us from placing too much importance on reason and not enough on trusting God. In the end, we believe in God because we have strong reasons to and those send us in the direction of God. But the truth is, we don’t have the answer to every question, the solution to every problem, or everything all neatly worked out (i.e., overwhelming evidence). We’ve simply seen enough and make a decision to trust God for what we can’t see!

To want to argue everything out to the “enth” degree in an effort to answer every possible objection and argument with people who aren’t interested in surrendering their life to God is, to my way of thinking, a waste of time. More to the point, it fails to take into consideration what Jesus said in John 7:17Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. We ought to do what John does and show them the powerful reasons for believing in Jesus (20:30-31) and then let them make their choice. To feel a compulsion to answer every argument overlooks the role of faith in coming to God and places too much faith in reason.

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