As part of the human race, you try to make sense of the world. In fact, you cannot stop trying to make sense of the world. We all have this incessant and relentless machine going on inside of us that is trying to understand and make sense of life. The fact that you are reading this blog is a part (hopefully, a helpful part) of that quest. Then this sense (in both its intertwined intellectual and affectional dimensions) guides our decisions and lives. Maybe you’ve given a lot of thought to your understanding of life, maybe you have given it very little intentional thought; but it leads you nonetheless.
In my own personal quest, I have at times thought that I had things pretty well figured out. Many times, my ideas have had to undergo a drastic correction; sometimes, I have had a correct idea but look back and see that I arrived at it through accidental stumbling. But there is one guiding principle I become more and more convinced of every year: that is, that historic, orthodox Christianity offers the most compelling and intellectually satisfying portrayal of reality. I see evidence of this everywhere I look and in everything I experience. Historic, biblical Christianity fits; it makes sense.
I see this in the wonder and beauty and organization of the natural world. Every facet and component of creation is mind-bendingly complex in its design and functioning. You see this in every cell, every organ, and every system of the human body. You see this in the balance and workings of every square inch of the planet earth. We get glimpses of this in the order and harmony of the cosmos. Just over a century ago, people were so impressed with the advance of their scientific discoveries they thought they would soon learn all that nature has to teach us—that they could write it all up in a book and have full and complete scientific understanding. But instead we have found that the more we discover, the more we realize that there is more to discover. The more that we learn, the more we see that we have so much yet to learn. Rather than coming to an end of the awe-inspiring complexity of creation, we begin to sense that we have only scratched the surface.
Could this have all happened by blind chance? Could enough changes have randomly accumulated in some batch of primordial sludge to the point where we now walk upright and design skyscrapers, space shuttles and smartphones? I have a hard time seeing how chance has much of a chance. Plus, how did the primordial sludge get here in the first place? When the Bible tells us that an Almighty God intentionally and purposefully created all that exists, that seems to fit better for me. And it fills me with a sense of wonder and awe.
I see further confirmation for biblical Christianity when looking at ourselves. The Bible explains us. It presents us as conflicted creatures—glorious as created in the image of God but fallen through our rebellion against him. To adequately understand ourselves, we need to keep both parts together. Either aspect without the other leaves a big and inexplicable gap. As John Stott put it, “The Christian critique of much modern philosophy and ideology is that it is either too naïve in its optimism about the human condition or too negative in its pessimism, whereas we dare to add that only the Bible keeps the balance.” The Bible explains the good and the bad in human life and makes sense of what you see happening around you every day.
The Bible explains me in a way that lays me bare (see Hebrews 4:12-13). It captures my rebellion, my longings, my delights, my joys. It reveals what relentlessly drives me. It shines a light on my sin, which is actually a good thing, because regardless of whether I choose to believe in my sin or not, it will greatly impact my life and the lives of those around me. Proper and effective treatment of my condition requires a right diagnosis, both of which are given to me in the Bible. I can’t get around the fact that God’s word understands me better than I understand myself, and I understand myself better when I am humble enough to learn from it.
And then there is Jesus, the one figure I have never been able to get around. When he lived his life on the earth, he made some very bold claims, claims so bold that they are either true or absolutely ridiculous. But his words are not the words of a crazy man; instead they exhibit deep understanding, beauty, power, and profundity. Many who opposed him attempted to trip him up in his own words, but they couldn’t stand up to his wisdom and instead exposed themselves. As some officers, who were unable to complete their assigned task of arresting Jesus, were forced to conclude, “No one ever spoke like this man!” (John 7:46).
Even beyond this, Jesus’ death and resurrection displays a self-sacrificial love and redemption in a way that connects to something implanted deeply within our souls. So many of our favorite stories appeal to us because they are dim reflections of these same themes, but the epitome is Jesus. And he is not just some inspirational story, but a historical figure open to historical verification. In fact, the historical explanation that best fits the known facts is that Jesus died and rose again from the dead—and that, by itself, is a game-changer.
I see evidence for the Christian faith in our hope for a better world. We see problems here that we want fixed, yet we have not been able to bring this about. Instead, a great part of the story of human history is zealous attempts to change the world that lead, not to improvement, but to greater man-made suffering. We haven’t been able to perfect the world, but God promises to. Now I guess this could just be a vain hope or some wish fulfillment longing to be satisfied. But I find a God-given desire to be a better explanation of why we all have a similar longing.
So do I ever struggle with doubt? Sure, at times; I think we all do. Yet even the need for faith is not some limitation that restricts God but is rather part of his intentional plan. I tend to be a very skeptical person by nature, but my skepticism has been overcome by the explanatory value of the teachings of biblical, historical Christianity. As G. K. Chesterton observed, “A man is not really convinced of a philosophic theory when he finds that something proves it. He is only really convinced when he finds that everything proves it.” That’s where I am compelled to be; I see it everywhere I look.
So how about you? What drives your life?