People who believe in God recognize that there are many natural signposts that point towards the truth that we are eternal beings and are part of a plan designed by an eternal, loving God; among these truths are that we long for permanence, we hold sacred the sanctity of life, and we marvel at the structure of a magnificent universe.
And, of course, perhaps most significantly, we love and are loved in return.
However, we also realize that we need more concrete evidence than that provided by these signposts alone if we are to build a durable faith. We can accept that the universe has been designed by a loving God, but as mortal, finite human beings we also demand to know just who this God is and what He is all about.
We are compelled by the force of logic to acknowledge that the search for these ultimate answers will remain nothing more than an effort in futility unless God, in a convincing and demonstrative manner, chooses to reveal Himself to us.
Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky observed this about God, My faith is not built on arguments of logic and reason; it is built on revelation.
Malcolm Muggeridge, the brilliant British journalist, has noted that plenty of great teachers, mystics, martyrs, and saints have made their appearances at different times in the world, having lived lives and spoken words of grace and truth for which we have reason to be grateful. Nevertheless, Muggeridge continues, humans require God’s special revelation on which to build a reliable religious belief and from which one can find wisdom and knowledge in this life and in the life of the world to come.
Is it possible that this revelation has already come to us? Is it possible that this God we believe in, who is all-powerful yet who refuses to give us undeniable proof of his existence on demand, instead has already revealed Himself quietly in flesh and blood?
The heart of Christian belief is that God stepped into history in the person of Jesus Christ. He lived a short but remarkable life. He was executed between two criminals and died a humiliating death. And yet philosopher/historian Will Durant (who was not a Christian), in his eleven-volume series The Story of Civilization, observes that the life, character, and teaching of Jesus has had the greatest impact and is the most fascinating in all of Western Civilization.
Napoleon, who dreamed of one day conquering the world by force, was fascinated that such a simple man could reach across the centuries and have such an impact on history. Just before his death, Napoleon made this thoughtful observation:
I die before my time and my body shall be given back to the earth and devoured by worms. What an abysmal gulf between my deep miseries and the eternal Kingdom of Christ. I marvel that whereas the ambitious dreams of myself and of Alexander and of Caesar should have vanished into thin air, a Judean peasant Jesus should be able to stretch his hands across the centuries and control the destinies of men and nations.
How could this one person’s life have such an impact? It had to be something more than the three years that he spent teaching and performing wonderful works. Clearly, that which separates Jesus apart from all the other figures of history is his death and resurrection. There is no other explanation. C. S. Lewis reinforces the point, writing, The death of Jesus has somehow put us right with God and given us a fresh start. His death is just that point in history at which something absolutely unimaginable from outside shows through into our own world.
A large portion of today’s post is taken from Richard’s book, Safe Passage: Thinking Clearly About Life and Death. If you enjoyed this discussion, you might enjoy further exploring this and similar topics in the book. Here is a link to this title at Amazon.