Sunday, March 27, 2016

A Matter of Faith

This is Easter Sunday, the day that we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It seems like an appropriate day to write a bit about faith.
I believe two things that I am completely incapable of proving:
  • When I die, my immortal soul is either going to be with God, or apart from Him.
  • Nothing I do can win my soul that spot with God; only belief that Jesus is the only way and commitment to Him will make it happen.
Making that commitment to Jesus is what makes me a Christian. Obviously there's a lot of other beliefs implied by these two: that there is a God, that we have immortal souls, that Jesus really did the things the Bible says he did, etc. But those two are the core. No one can prove that they're right (or wrong), as humanity has no way to see past the veil of death. It's a matter of faith.

This may seem fairly simplistic, but it's pretty difficult for a few reasons. I'm a logic person. I like things that can be explained, predicted, and analyzed. You can't do that with faith. There's no way for me to gather evidence or analyze results in this area. Anything that happens around me can be interpreted either to support my belief, or undermine it. Nothing is going to prove it either true or false. It's not easy to hold faith when almost everything else in life is explainable.

Maintaining faith is made more difficult when others use their faith as an excuse for inflicting harm. The obvious example is Islamic extremists. We hear about some new atrocity regularly, most recently from Belgium. Those responsible don't share the same faith I do, but their faith is the foundation that makes them capable of those horrific acts. It makes the whole concept of unconditional belief in anything more difficult to accept.

It's also not easy sometimes to hold my faith when I see what other people do under the Christian banner. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart and mind, and the second was to love your neighbor (which is to say, everyone) as yourself. Yet many Christians battle to force everyone into compliance with their own beliefs on many issues. Birth control, treating LGBT people equally, teaching scientific theories in schools, and lack of tolerance for other religions to name just a few. That's not loving your neighbor; it's browbeating them into compliance. I'm not perfect in this area by any stretch of the imagination, but I do my best not to be involved in any way with discrimination or deprivation in the name of religious belief.

On this Easter, belief isn't that difficult, as believers around the world are celebrating one of the holiest acts in history. The rest of the time, it may not be so easy. Nevertheless, I still have faith.

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