Recently I was talking with some friends about some of the harder to believe stories in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament. We acknowledged that there are parts of the Bible that aren't easy to believe at first glance. The story of Jonah became the focus of the conversation. However, as we talked I remembered how each of us have our own faith hurdles to overcome.
For some of us, it is hard to believe that Jesus forgives murderers and pedophiles. For others, it is hard to believe that Jesus really could raise from the dead. It is sometimes hard to believe the Bible could be accurate as old as it is. For some of us, it is just hard to believe that god could love us at all.
No matter who you are, you have (or used to have) a faith hurdle, something that you has to be overcome for you to trust Jesus. Here are a few things to consider as you are processing your questions:
- Truth is never afraid of questions. The truth can stand up to scrutiny. Too many times, people sit in their doubt rather than work through them. Ask God to reveal His truth, and dig into it. Do some Google searches. Find some books. Ask me for help (this is what I'm here for).
- Don't believe it just because a smart person said it. I spent most of my academic career reading philosophers and scientists from a vast array of viewpoints. Both fields are continually changing. What is called "fact" one year is thrown out the next. This is not to say that science and philosophy don't matter, just recognize that scientists and philosophers are on a path to understanding, they haven't arrived yet, nor do they all agree with each other.
- Recognize the role of emotions. No one is perfectly objective. We all have biases and prejudices that affect our beliefs. We all think we are right and that all the evidence supports our view, but how you approach an issue deeply influences your conclusions. People tend to believe what they want to believe. Try to keep your emotions in check.
- If God is God, then anything is possible. If God exists, then He is in control of everything. Jesus can raise from the dead. Prophets can live in fish for days at a time. Rapists can be forgiven. Slaves can be set free. The lost can be found. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead kept Jonah alive in the belly of a fish. If God exists, then it can all be true (Matthew 19:26).
- You don't have to have everything figured out before you trust Jesus. The truth is that if Jesus in't real, then nothing else matters. Don't waste your time trying to figure out secondary issues. Focus on Jesus: Is He fully God and fully man? Did He really die for me and raise form the dead? Find Jesus and then let Him help you find everything else. Jesus once asked a man if he believe his son could be healed. The mans response was "I believe, help me overcome my unbelief." That is a good prayer.
- Faith leads to understanding. St. Anselm talked about "faith seeking understanding." The truth is that until you trust Jesus, all of this will look pretty impossible (2 Corinthians 4:4). However, Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would guide us in all truth (John 16:13). If you trust Jesus, you have the Holy Spirit to help you. If not, it won't make sense.
- Don't walk alone. Someone has had the same questions you have. Get around some people who can tell you their story of trusting Jesus. Don't be afraid to ask them questions. Two are better than one (Ecclesiastes 4:8).
At restoration, we don't believe you have to have everything figured out and together before you come to church. We invite people to Experience
I hope that's helpful. You can't go wrong asking God to reveal Himself. Ask Him to show you what is true and be open to what He says.