Why Should I Believe in God?

I’ve been very blessed to have ministered now in two different countries: the United States of America and Northern Ireland.  Both countries could hardly be described as “unchurched”.  Both could probably be best described as “Christ-haunted landscapes”, to steal a term from Flannery O’Connor.  So, to travel around either of these countries you will see church buildings nearly everywhere you go.  Furthermore, to talk to your average American or Irishman, you quickly learn that they are staunchly ‘theistic’ in their outlook.  That is to say, there is some belief in God embedded somewhere in their psyche.  So when you look at both of these societies and the backsliding and moral failing that typifies them, you begin to realize that the reason for this is not that they lack evidence for God’s existence.  So the question that most Americans and Irish seem to be asking is not, “Is there a god?”, but rather, “Why should I believe in God?”.  These are two radically different questions.  For most, then, it is a matter of why.  Let us try and answer this question, “Why should I believe in God?”.

First, a person should believe in God because he is the source of all knowledge and understanding.  My seven-year-old son helped me make pancakes over the weekend.  Per usual, the questions began to fly.  “What ingredients do we use?”.  “Why do you use baking powder?”. “What does it do?”.  Once the standard questions were asked (and barely answered), then the more challenging questions arose… “Where does baking powder come from?”.  “Where do you get eggs from?”.  “How is flour made?”.  These were much more difficult for me to ask.  Finally, the existential questions came… “Where did chickens come from?”.  “How does heat change the dough from liquid to a solid?”.  All these final set of questions stumped their imaginative dad.  Like children, humans are curious beings.  We want to know; we must know things.  We must know because it helps us to make sense of the world we are living in.  Now, most of us are okay not having answers to the bigger questions of the existence of pancakes, but when it comes to things like love, life, contentment, and meaning, well then it becomes less okay to have fuzzy answers.

Belief, not just in God, but the God of the Bible gives us the source of all life and knowledge and therefore provides us with deeper knowledge about the deeper things of life, like love.  1 John 4:8 tells us that, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”  God’s greatest act of love is the giving of his Son, Jesus Christ to be an atonement for our sin.  Nobody can do what Jesus did in giving his life in this way, but even by looking at this act we can see that love is an act of giving, not of taking.  This is fundamentally different from what is being taught and what is being modeled in our world today.  Imagine if your society today put this into practice, that we are to give freely of ourselves to love our fellow man?  The world would be a much better place.  So, God is the source of all true knowledge and understanding.

Second, belief in the God of the Bible gives us a proper scope for how we are to view ourselves and how we are to view our world.  It’s a matter of perspective.  Belief in God puts man in his rightful place.  We are not all powerful, we are not all knowing, and we are not ultimately in control.  Now that does not mean that we are to throw all caution to the wind and live carelessly; quite the opposite in fact.  Knowing that I am not all-powerful should humble me.  It should take away all my pride and make me humble.  And when we are humble, we tend to get out of our own way and generally good things start to happen.  I’m saying the word “should” a lot because it’s the constant struggle we all must face daily, that God is in control and not me.  This is the scope of the Christian’s life, and it makes things a lot clearer when we live humbly before God’s all-powerful existence.

Finally, belief in the God of the Bible gives us a sense of direction.  Most of us really hate it when someone tells us what we MUST do with our lives.  As a young teenager I really resented that, and to be honest, as a 38-year-old I still sometimes resent that today.  But if God is the source of all knowledge and understanding, and if he gives our lives the proper scope, then we are obligated to follow what he has said about how we live our lives.  We need to be thankful and willing to follow him.  And here’s the thing, when we do allow God to give our lives a sense of direction, we do become better.  The book of Hebrews describes God as our father and calls us his sons (and daughters).  “And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.  For the Lord disciples the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives (Hebrews 12:4-6).”  So, we can say that God not only is love, but that he loves.  He loves us.  He loves you.  Therefore, the direction that he takes you and leads you is always right.  You can trust him because he loves you.  And because he loves you, you can and will love him back.  It’s a lifetime process learning to love God, but it gets better and sweeter with time.  Look to God, learn to trust him, and live your life for him.