“Reasons To Believe”
I like to think of myself as a fairly rational guy. I pay my bills on time. I plan ahead. I like to read books that make rational arguments and engage my critical thinking skills. I also enjoy books that disagree with views that I hold because I like to think through alternative issues that I may not have considered before. The Bible gives a nod to rational thinking, “The naïve believe everything, but the sensible one gives thought to his steps” (Proverbs 14:15).
And then there are times when I act completely irrational. My brain takes a vacation. I put the milk in the cupboard. I eat things that are not healthy for me. I cheer for the Timberwolves (God’s mercy ended the season early) and sometimes I weird things type.
So, the question becomes: can I trust myself? Am I really qualified to make rational decisions at all? There are a host of doubts concerning just about anything I do. What if the investment I made falls through? What if we open churches and businesses back up and we become the reason the coronavirus spreads again? The thing is, you probably have doubts when it comes to making your own everyday choices. Yet, we also know that rational thought generally leads to a better life: “The wise lay up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool brings ruin near” (Proverbs 10:14). We take necessary precautions and proceed and when we are mistaken, we correct our errors best we can.
Is it rational to get in a car since there is a chance you could get in an accident? We do not know if we will make it to our destination safely, but we still get in, buckle up, and obey the traffic rules. This is both rational and it takes a leap of faith, though maybe just a small one.
What about the major decisions of life like should I believe in God or not? How can we be sure there is a God? What if my brain is tricking me into believing in this Guy in the Sky? Is this belief in God just a complete waste of time? Well, a rational person would start looking at the evidence. There are trees, and flowers, and sky, and earth, and people who have these amazing things called eyes, and ears, and fingerprints, and babies. Seems reasonable to conclude these things came from a Designer. Oh, and we also have the Bible, which is clear about the fact there is a God who created everything and allows the laws of science to operate. There is the man, Jesus Christ, who existed a long time ago and claimed to be God, then rose from the dead to prove it. There is also a great history of intelligent men and women who have believed in Him. God also provides a foundation for knowing what is right and wrong, provides peace amid uncertainty, and grace for when I keep putting the milk in the cupboard. Maybe none of these things individually would convince anyone, but collectively they pull a lot of weight.
Turns out there is abundant evidence to believe in God. In fact, maybe those who have rejected Him do so not on account of a lack of evidence, but for other reasons. Maybe they have had bad experiences with church, or maybe they do not like the Bible’s views on some topic, or maybe they just misunderstand what Jesus Christ accomplished on their behalf. These all may be legitimate reasons why people do not believe in Him, but to say there’s not enough evidence to believe in God is not rational. Simply put, it is extremely reasonable and, yet also takes a leap of faith, though maybe a small one. To not believe in this God, would be like deciding to never get in a car because there is no proof the driver will get to his destination safely. That sounds irrational. I know the Driver, He is good. He has never been in an accident.
I understand that these ideas could be expanded upon, and there are many who would have more questions or objections to my thoughts here, and that is fine. In fact, I would love to hear from you. I may just be the crazy guy who puts milk in the cupboard and thinks the Timberwolves have a shot at being good one day, but no matter what I have a God who created me, saved me, adopted me into His family, and gives me purpose and hope. How about you?
Pastor Ty Rostvedt is the pastor at Salem Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids. You can e-mail him at email@example.com