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Keeping Faith: Am I Nuts To Believe In God?

With all that is happening in our world you might be finding your faith gets shaken now and then. There is so much suffering and terror, division and conflict, disease and problems Whether it’s shootings in a school, rising waves of crime, wars in Europe, a crumbling climate, economic hardship, the politicization of everything, or personal crises in your own life, it’s making you wonder. The world is on fire! Where are you, Lord, and do you even notice?

Am I nuts to believe in God with all that is happening in this world? And why isn’t he answering the prayers I have been lifting for so long. Or maybe you don’t feel like he is with you. You don’t sense his presence.

Or do I have the right God? What about other faiths? Other people say this about God. Do I have it wrong?

Even if we stand firm in our faith in God, there are times we might wonder and question things. Many people of great faith in the Bible questioned God. Moses, David, Job, the prophets, John the Baptist, Mary. Jesus, himself, on the cross, cried out to his Father feeling that the Father had forsaken him. In fact, I don’t know if faith is real if there aren’t times of questioning and doubt.

But the struggle can also clarify our vision of God and strengthen our faith.

The sermons over the next four-weeks are about keeping faith; keeping faith in these troubled, anxious, maybe brutal times. I want to take some big questions we struggle with, look at some scripture, and guide us in how to think about it. I’ve given what the four sermons will be in our email newsletter The Weekly which we send out via email every week so look at that for the sermons.

This morning let’s begin with the question if we are nuts to even believe in God?

A Gallup Poll published this year showed that belief in God in this nation dipped to 81%, down 6 percentage points from 2017. And it is the lowest since Gallup first asked people in 1944. Personally, I think it is lower. Although it is not as low as in Europe where it is 26%.

In 2011 92% of Americans said they believed in the God of the Bible. That dropped to 87% in 2017. And now 81%. And only 68% of young people between the ages of 18-29 say they believe in God.[1]

What are the reasons people are losing faith?

For some, they see so much suffering and pain in the world and they can’t believe there is a loving and good God. And let’s be honest, that is a good reason to question the reality of God.

For some it is a conflict between science and faith. They think the two are incompatible and that science disproves there is a God.

For others they don’t like the idea of a God because it would mean they would have to change the way they live. They want to do what they want, as they want, when they want.

And some may see people who call themselves Christian, and they see the way they talk and act, and say “if that’s what God is about then I don’t want any part of it.” I get that. There are some terrible examples claiming association with the Lord Jesus. There are people doing things in the name of God that are horrible.

So how do we keep faith?

The Bible begins with God, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” It assumes his existence. Nowhere does the Bible argue for the reality of God. In Romans Paul says that God’s eternal power and divine nature are seen in what he has made.

The Bible does recognize that there are those who question where God is, and those who don’t think God exists. Sometimes its people of belief who are trying to hold on to faith. Sometimes its others who aren’t interested in faith. The Psalmist says that those who say there is no God are “fools.”

In Acts Paul speaks to a group of people who were very religious but believed in a number of different gods. Paul said that there is just one God. And this one God gives life and breath to everyone. He is not far from any of us. And “in him we live and move and have our being.” He is basic to our existence. If that’s so then how is it so easy to miss him?

No one can prove the existence of God and no one can disprove his existence. For some it is an intellectual thing. They have rational arguments for not believing in God. For others it is a heart and emotional thing. Some people who have been in churches all their lives might wonder if they have it all wrong.

These messages aren’t for those who don’t believe in order to convince. I am preaching to those who have faith, and these sermons are to help reassure us in that faith. As far as belief in God I want to suggest some strong clues about God and how they point to good reasons for faith in the God of the Bible.

First is what some call the moral law. Everyone has a sense of right and wrong. Not just Christians but everyone in every culture. There are things we ought to do and things we ought not to do. No one has ever valued selfishness. Lying has always been frowned upon. Everyone believes they deserve respect and don’t want to be treated poorly. It has been this way since the beginning of time

People believe there are some things that are wrong for people to do even if they feel it is all right to do. Where does this belief come from? Where did this sense of right and wrong in us come from? I believe God has made us this way.

When people argue they are saying there is some standard in this world that shows what is right. And some standard of right and wrong is not an accident. I think it is a clue to God who created this world with morality and has put this moral law in us.

Following this is a sense of fairness. Things aren’t right in the world. Children shouldn’t be hurt or abandoned. Families shouldn’t be places of hurt. People shouldn’t start shooting at a crowd at a parade. One country should not bully another into submission. Genocide should not happen. The powerful shouldn’t steal from those who are poor.

There are people who reason that God can’t be real given the world is so cruel and unjust. Well, where did this sense of what is cruel and unjust come from?

There are people who fight for various causes. They sacrifice and give themselves. They want justice. Our sense of justice and that things need to be made right is from God. People aren’t just making this up. We have a sense of how things should be. It’s part of the human condition. It tells me that perhaps there is Someone who has made it this way. That the Designer of this universe has made it to be a just place.

Another clue for faith in God is this universe itself. The solar systems and this planet are amazingly beautiful, complex, detailed, vast, and wondrous. Some people say it just kind of happened. Some Big Bang or accident.

There was certainly a defined beginning to the universe. And without getting overly scientific about it all this universe is fine-tuned for life to exist. I am not a scientific mind, so I have appreciated the voice of Francis Collins, one of the leading scientists in the world, and also a devout believer in Christ. His book “The Language of God” has been immensely helpful to me.

In it he writes, “If the rate of expansion one second after the Big Bang had been smaller by even one part in 100 thousand million million, the universe would not have remained in existence. If the universe had expanded by even one part in a million, stars and planets could not have been able to form.” This universe has just the right properties to exist, and it rests on, what he calls, a “knife edge of improbability.”

Physicists will tell you that there are fifteen physical constants which are givens. They are there and without question. Things like the speed of light, various parameters associated with electromagnetism and the force of gravity. “The chance that all of these constants would take on the values necessary to result in a stable universe capable of sustaining complex life forms is almost infinitesimal.”

In A Brief History of Time, the brilliant English physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking said, “It would be very difficult to explain why the universe should have begun in just this way, except as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us.”[2]

And can something come from nothing? The awe-inspiring glory of mountains, the exquisite diversity of sea life, the intricacy of the human body, the enormity of the galaxies. It’s why Paul wrote in Romans that

“…what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”[3]

Which leads me to another clue to the reality of God which is us. Look at the person on your right and on your left and behind and in front of you. They are a unique creation. You are a unique creation. There is nothing like human beings. We are people who have consciousness. That we can even ask where this universe came from and why we are here and why it works as it does suggests something. We can communicate on high levels. We can create, dream, love, and experience deep emotions.

We can smell a rose and know that we are smelling a rose.

We can taste fresh peaches in summer,

…exult in a Bach symphony,

…appreciate the complexities of an algorithm,

…paint a work of art,

…feel the security of holding a hand,

…come undone from a heartfelt letter from a friend,

…be astonished by the words of a child.

Human existence is amazing. Is it really just chemical reactions or evolutionary forces?

If our free choice, love, ability to reflect, sense of significance, longing for satisfaction is nothing more than nerve cells and molecules then there is no God or spiritual dimension to life. But I don’t think most people are willing to accept that. Most people don’t live like it. We live like what we do and what we want matters, and that we are important and have value.

If you asked many people what they want in life, I suspect a bulk of them would say they want happiness. Or joy. Happiness and joy are real things. We hunger for them. Where does that hunger come from? If life is just an accident, or we are just molecules that happened to come together, what’s the point of wanting to experience joy? I think it points to God. He has created happiness and he has made us for happiness.

By the way, in Genesis, after God created the universe and human beings, he saw it and called it very good. God took joy in what he made.

Why the universe and people don’t always operate good is because we have broken off the relationship for which we were created. C.S. Lewis wrote, “God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on…God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”[4]

I know that some people get God wrong and use his name in twisted ways. But you take God out of the equation and it doesn’t get better. I think there is a reason some of the most brutal regimes in history, that have accounted for the deaths of millions and millions, were systems that suppressed any knowledge of God. They remain today.

You never hear anyone say that their life changed when they discovered life had no meaning, and there was no life after death. You never hear anyone say that they overcame their addiction because they have been freed by the law of natural selection. No one ever attributes a transformation from hatred to love or fear to courage because they realized everything is just one big accident.[5]

Really, God is not an argument. That is why God doesn’t spend time giving us a lot of arguments in the Bible. And what I just want us to get this morning is that, no, we aren’t nuts to believe in God.

Now, the things I have mentioned don’t say who God is or what God is like. We could just stop here and say there is a Higher Power. And many of the things mentioned might convince there is some transcendent being or some divine presence.

But one day a man came who showed us who God is and what God is like. That God who was in the beginning didn’t come as an argument . He came as a person. That’s Jesus Christ. To live our life, in our world, on our terms.

And the next question I would ask those 81% who still say they believe in God is “Well, what do you believe this God is like?”

“Christians believe that the main way we know specifics about God is not through our philosophical reasoning but through his self-revelation.” That is that God has come and shown us who he is because we would never figure it out on our own. We know about God “not first through out thinking but through his speaking to us.” And we believe he has done that decisively in Jesus Christ.[6]

Jesus said he came to show the Father. He said he was from above and from outside of this world. He said only he knew who the Father was, and anyone they chose to reveal themselves to. He said his words and teaching were from the Father. He said to believe in him was to believe in God. Through his words and actions he equated himself with God.[7]

Jesus showed the authority of God by taking the very words of God in Scripture and restating it. He took what people had understood about God for centuries and zoomed in on the very heart of God. Jesus showed God to be holy, loving, and full of grace. No one would know this unless he had come and told us this himself.

Jesus said that he is the door to something called the kingdom of God. He claimed to be able to forgive sins. He was seen to die on a Roman cross and was seen alive again three days later.[8] And no one every made the claims he did or did the things he did. No one. And he is still making a stir in this world. And he is still believed on and worshipped.

If you want to know who God is and what God is like look at Jesus. The Christian story is that there was a moment when God was specifically seen, touched, and heard. And what one makes of Jesus Christ is what one makes of God.

To the person who has struggles and issues with God, just point them to Jesus. No arguments. Most people can’t be argued into faith. Read the Gospels and put your eyes on Jesus. God in human flesh.

I see Jesus and know that I am not nuts.

[1] Poll: Americans’ Belief in God is Dropping, Religious News Service, 9/4/2022 [2] The Language of God, pp. [3] Rom. 1:19-20 [4] The Question of God, Dr. Armand M. Nicholi, Jr., p.105 [5] From John Ortberg, Faith & Doubt, p.167 [6] Tim Keller, Making Sense of God, p.228 [7] Matt. 11:27, John 7:16, 8:23, 42; 5:18; 10:38 [8] Matt. 7:21, Mark 2:7-11

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