Talk to a devout Mormon, Muslim, or Buddhist and he’ll extol the here-and-now benefits of his faith. He’ll cite a serenity of spirit, or a sense of order that believing brings to his life. Yet his belief system contradicts mine, so logically these various faiths cannot all be true!
If I were a Christian just because faith has utility for me, because my days are more likely to unfold in a smooth, trouble-free manner, I’d be a pragmatist, pure and simple. And I’d be prone to shuck my commitment to Christ the moment a different philosophy or religion appeared to offer me more.
Don’t get me wrong. Following Christ is not without rewards in the present. My faith often sustains me, provides perspective for decision-making, and injects a merry countenance.
But not all the time. There’s the inevitable warfare with the world, the flesh, and the devil to contend with. And in my case, either chronic depression or weaknesses of temperament sometime get the best of me. I’ll keep praying for relief and I’ll strive for sound mental health, yet I don’t want to be among the growing number of Christians who expect God to give them on earth what He only promised for heaven.
From a theological perspective, I’m a Christian because God chose me and initiated a relationship with me (Eph. 2:1-10). From a human perspective, my faith is in Christ not because it works, but because I believe Christianity is true. And truth is objective reality, not a subjective experience.
No matter how I feel, or how my day goes, truth doesn’t change. Truth just is. That’s what the following poem that I wrote conveys.
Nature of Truth
When all hope yields to despair
and I doubt that God is there;
When my heart is cold, unfeeling,
and my prayers bounce off the ceiling;
When depression takes its toll
and winter winds assault my soul;
When the race seems all uphill
and dying grows in its appeal;
When things don’t go as expected--
Still, God’s Truth is unaffected.
What difference does it make to know that God’s truth is distinct from what I’m feeling or experiencing?
Why should this perspective encourage us?