Do you know what you believe and why you believe it? Picture this: you are having lunch with some coworkers. The talk around the table is going a bit everywhere, and then somewhere in the conversation you casually mention something that happened at church this past Sunday. Someone looks at you and asks, “You go to church?” Another asks bluntly, “You believe in God, Jesus, and all of that? How can anyone even know if there is a God with all that is going on in the world?”
You listen uncomfortably as everyone begins to share their thoughts about religion and you quietly sink back in your chair finishing your lunch. You leave the restaurant feeling defeated and maybe even wondering if your friends could be right. I imagine we have all, at one time or another, have found ourselves at a loss for adequate words when it comes to explaining our faith or intelligently articulating the beliefs that we hold dear.
One of the great challenges in our day is knowing what Christian faith is really all about, and how to talk about it with honesty, clarity, and integrity. It’s not easy sometimes.
A great example of faith was found on the wall of a concentration camp. On that wall a prisoner had written these words:
I believe in the sun, even though it doesn’t shine.
I believe in love, even when it isn’t shown.
I believe in God, even when He doesn’t speak.
Confident faith knows that there is more to life than meets the eye. Faith refuses its vision to be limited by the visible. It refuses to listen only for the audible. It does not allow the mind to be controlled only by the logical.
A father was crying out to his young son who was trapped in a burning house. The two-story structure was engulfed in flames, and everybody had gotten out but that little five-year-old boy. He was standing at the window and his father said: “Jump son, jump, I’ll catch you.” The little boy cried, “But daddy, I can’t see you because of all the smoke!” The father cried back, “I know son, but I can see you. Jump!”
Faith believes that God sees even when we cannot see. God hears even when we cannot hear. God knows even when we do not know. Dwight L. Moody once said: “A little faith in God will bring your soul to heaven. But a lot of faith in God will bring heaven to your soul.”
Do you know why faith is so important? Do you understand why the single most important thing one generation can do for the next generation is to pass to that generation the gospel of Jesus Christ?
In ancient Corinth they used to stage the forerunner of the modern Olympics called the Isthmian games. The highlight of those games was the relay race. The competitors lined up side-by-side at the starting line, each bearing a torch. In the distance waited another line of runners, and still farther on others.
When the signal was given the runners would begin to run bearing their lighted torches. When a runner reached his partner in the next line, he would pass on his light and that person would then go and pass on the light until the finish line was reached.
Two things were vitally important. Number one: they could not allow the light to go out, and number two: they could not drop the torch. The Greeks coined a phrase out of that relay race: “Let those who have the light pass it on.” That is exactly what we must do from generation to generation until Jesus comes.
I have come to understand that I cannot prove God created the heavens and the earth any more than an atheist can prove that God has not. I point to the beauty of the sunrise, and the atheist reminds me of hurricanes. I suggest the miracle of a baby’s birth, and the atheist speaks of the Holocaust where babies were incinerated just because of their Jewish ancestry. Sooner or later I come to the place where I must decide, “Will I look at life through the eyes of faith with all its troubles, or through the eyes of a skeptic which has its own set of problems?”
This coming Sunday I will introduce a new eight-part sermon series titled “The Reasons I Believe: A Sober Defense of Christian Faith.” In this series I intend to offer a wealth of compelling explanations of the truthfulness of Christianity, including the reality of God, the reliability of sacred scripture, and reasons for embracing Jesus Christ as the divine revelation of God. My goal is to equip you to confidently respond to common objections to your faith, and to also help seekers and skeptics consider the claims of Christianity in a more personal way. This series might be helpful to your friends and family members who have asked you questions that you cannot answer, or who struggle with theological issues in particular and religion in general. So I hope you will extend them an invitation and that they will join you for worship this Sunday.
I hope to see you then!
P.S. This coming Sunday my book-of-the-month selection will be on display at the Welcome Center just outside the narthex of the main sanctuary. It is titled “Why I Am a Christian” by Rev. John R. W. Stott. Stott, the long-term Anglican clergyman and theologian, provides a strong background for my new sermon series on what it means to embrace Christian belief in our day and time. Stott has spent a lifetime wrestling with questions about Jesus both personally and in dialogue with skeptics and seekers around the globe. In “Why I Am a Christian,” Stott provides a compelling, persuasive case for the Christian faith and explains how following Jesus can bring purpose, identity, and freedom to your life.