Why I Believe

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” 1 Peter 3:15

I’m not a historian, archeologist, or linguist.  I’m glad we have people around who have mastered such things.  When I am in doubt, they prove very helpful. I think it’s vital that a person deeply consider the facts about what he or she believes. I’ve spent time investigating to my own satisfaction that God is real and the Bible is His message to us. What drives me towards Him is actually bigger than that though. It’s God himself.

My faith is summed up by these beliefs, taught to me as a child:

  • There is one God who has always existed. He created everything else that exists, including us.
  • We’re separated from God’s perfection by sin– we deliberately go our own way apart from his design. This sin makes us inherently selfish and given to evil.
  • God is perfect, holy, righteous. He must punish sin (evil) to be just. But He loves us and wants us to be reconciled with him.
  • God solved this problem by coming into the world as Jesus. He was sinless and took the punishment for our sin by dying on a cross.
  • God offers us reconciliation through Christ’s death in our place. He said his “I do” on the cross. We say our “I do” by trusting in that payment and accepting Him as Lord.

These core beliefs, tested through the decades of my life, remain to this day.

When James Cameron and his cohort, Simcha Jacobovici, came on the Today show in 2007, claiming they’d found “the bones of Jesus,” I had to laugh. They might as well have told me they’d found my bones. It was utter nonsense to me in the same way.  I’ll leave the archeological scholarship trashing on this to others. What I can’t avoid is my personal interaction with Christ.

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14

In Christian circles we call the deposit described in the verse above as “having Christ in your heart.”  His Spirit lives in me.

The active presence of God is the one thing a person without Christ cannot possibly relate to. His involvement in my life, even when I am doubting, confused, or profoundly off-track, seals my faith. I can’t fathom living apart from him. I’m not saying I always feel him, because I don’t. Even when I think I feel him, it may just be a reflection of my joy and strengthened faith in a given moment. My feelings do not justify the verdict. What counts are the actions God takes that show he is there, otherwise, what are my faith and hope other than a personal endeavor or wishful thinking?

 

I believe because scripture offers compelling, consistent on-the-field testimony from many witnesses across millennia. God did stuff to validate his message.

I believe because of the love God puts in my heart for Him and for others. It compels me.

I believe because of the beauty I see in God’s love demonstrated in many followers all over the world working to help those in desperate need. Far from the stereotypes and far from the hateful behavior of liars who claim to serve Christ, but act the opposite.

I believe because I’ve seen the amazing transformation of individuals who found Christ after leading destructive lives.

I believe because God has done amazing things in my life. I have failed time and time again to walk in His path, but he sustains me and blesses me profoundly. I’d have fallen through the cracks many years ago if he didn’t come to my aid.

There is much I don’t understand about God. I’ve endured a great deal of pain as well as blessings. I don’t know what the point is for all that happens. I just know the God I’ve discovered through Christ is actually real and much wiser than me.

That’s it in a nutshell.

Eric Long

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