Unlike so many religious people in our society, I am honestly not afraid of anything that challenges my faith. Such challenges will do one of two things:
1) be found lacking in substantive information and do nothing or 2) successfully expose fallacies in my understanding (we all have them), which will bring me closer to the truth. I suppose it’s conceivable number two could bring about a crisis of faith. That is the risk we take when we sincerely open our minds and give our discoveries due consideration. I’m not looking for a comforting homily on a Sunday morning. I’m after the TRUTH. And, unlike modern Western culture, I believe there is an absolute truth, just no verification of it. This places the pursuit of truth on an individual footing. Everyone has to ask questions and look for his own answers. I do believe God gets involved in the process, but that is, again, something I have discovered on my own personal journey. None of the most important questions can be answered for me by someone else, nor can I answer them for another.
All this has convinced me that our cultural squabbling is futile. When I encounter someone who seems interested in my beliefs, I will unabashedly share my faith. When there is no openness, I will treat the other person respectfully and stay off the controversial subjects. I have given up arguing about the veracity of the Bible and the Christian faith. Jesus can neither be proven true nor debunked by scientific inquiry. Faith and empirical investigation are mutually exclusive, although I do believe in the value of science; it has made our lives much easier and more amazing. We have solved many distressing problems and opened up whole new worlds of enjoyment. Some of the digital photographs I come across just in a half hour of reading e-mails or tooling around on Facebook would once have won Pulitzer Prizes!
But faith is a personal matter. The older I get, the more laissez-faire I become. God has equipped us with brains and wills for a reason. He has given each of us the right to sort things out for ourselves. I believe we are each endowed with a conscience that helps us see right and wrong. I only wish more of us sought truth over comfort, convenience and pleasure.
I imagine many readers are equating my stance with a do-nothing evangelism that waits until someone camps on my doorstep for a week before I engage and share my faith. Not so. I embrace my part in the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19). However, I believe evangelism can only occur after I have gained another’s trust and gratitude. There is a saying in modern evangelical circles: People don’t care what you know until they know that you care. The best way for evangelists to gain credibility in their community is to help others in need (addressing the material before the spiritual) and to display the character of Christ. If I am a good citizen who has made it known (in a meek way) that I am a follower of Christ, my fruit will give the Holy Spirit opportunities for me to evangelize. Hence the Scripture: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Pe. 3:15).