One of my favorite DJs on my favorite Christian radio station is well-known for his ability to ask provocative questions that force Christians to think outside the box. He never lets anyone answer his questions with clichés or standard Christian phrases. Instead, he wants real, thought-out answers.
The other day, he asked a question based on an email that he received: How can you believe in a God that you can’t see, touch, or feel? Like any good radio host, he put that question out to his listeners, but with a challenge. In order to answer that question, one couldn’t use clichés like “One can’t see the wind, but we see the effects of the wind.”
So I began to think about how I would answer that question if someone approached me with that dilemma. How can I believe in a God that I can’t see, touch, or feel? I’m not going to lie to you, I’ve struggled with that very question in my own mind in the past. There is no easy answer. Sure, if I’m in a good mood and things are going great in my life, then it’s a simple answer: God blesses me! Look at what He’s doing in my life! If there would no God, surely I wouldn’t be blessed like this.
But it’s never in times of prosperity that I’ve questioned God, so I think it’s safe to assume that if someone were to actually ask me that question, there would be something going on in their life that would prompt them to ask the question in the first place.
I believe that the best place to begin when trying to explain why I believe, is with the works of God in my life. Not the tangible blessings like money and a job, but the intangibles like peace, and joy, and wonder. It won’t be easy to explain these concepts to someone who has never experienced them, so take the time to think of a moment in your life when you shouldn’t have had peace and joy; a time when normal people would be struggling just to make it through the day. Then tell them what God did for you in that moment. Tell them how He was there when it seemed as though the world had left you far behind.
The next step is pure honesty: tell them that it doesn’t make sense all the time. It’s ok to admit that our faith is a mystery to those who don’t believe. But the only way to get it is to believe. One caller into the show told the host that the person asking the question should just ask God to show Himself to them and then they would believe. But Jesus Himself said that only a wicked and perverse generation would ask for a sign. (Matthew 16:4)
In order to experience God, you must believe in Him. It doesn’t work the other way around. If God performed some kind of great miracle in order to get us to believe in Him, then there is no faith involved. It costs us something to have a relationship with Christ. In the beginning of our relationship, it costs us faith, and this is probably the most important thing we can give. This fledgling act of faith will prepare us for the future when our faith will be tested and we must blindly follow the will of God without any direction at all. That day will come. And if we don’t have the initial faith to believe in Christ, then when the hard times fall, instead of relying on God through faith to get us through, we will be trampled by the world and all it throws at us.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. We have to speak honestly with people and meet them where they are at. We must speak in love at all times, yet not ignore the fact that everyone is a sinner in need of a savior. We have to clearly explain to them who God is and what He has done in our lives. Then we must invite them to believe, so that in doing so, they too can experience the love and compassion of an amazing God.