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Finding out about faith

Life presents many challenges and questions. One of the most signifcant of course, is the age-old question 'Why are we here?' Another often asked is this...'Is there any real purpose to life?' It is natural to ask those questions. Many people prefer to ignore them or push them away somehow. But that is not a very convincing or satisfying way of dealing with the issues that go to the very heart of our humanity - why we are as we are, and whether there is really something more.

For a long time now, many people have been persuaded by the arguments of naturalism - that is, the natural world is all there is. There is nothing supernatural apart from what is generated by our imaginations. Man's ideas about God or gods are merely human constructs to help us deal with our hopes and fears etc. These find different expressions according to culture and human evolution. We are higher animals and that is all. We live and we die. There is nothing more. This is a predominant view in the western world especially and one that is taught in all of our educational institutions. 

Does this explanation convince or satisfy everybody? Evidently not. That said, if naturalism is true, then there is not much more to be said. Life has very little meaning in the grand scheme of things. Why is it then, that so many intelligent people are not fully convinced by this proposition? Well, there are a number of possible answers, and I think one of the persuasive is that human beings appear to possess something like a 'spiritual sense' that is over and above our physical senses. In other words, there is an 'in-built' capacity to comprehend the transcendent. There is a desire to reach out to the divine because we recognise the divine 'finger-print' upon all of creation. We see design and complexity which theories of chance and accident do not satisfy; we appreciate wonder in the beauty of nature and the natural world, we feel inspired and moved by music, art and literature. Deeper still, we have spiritual encounters that we cannot dismiss as being coincidences, our imagination or our minds playing tricks on us. We 'know' in this spiritual sense of ours that there is something other than ourselves.

I wonder if that is a description of how you see things? Not all will share this simple analysis but perhaps you do. You have your own questions and why shouldn't you have the opportunity to pursue them? Questions often are the spur we need to investigate the available evidence in our quest to see if there is another kind of truth - perhaps a core truth abour our existence that many today have forgotten or chosen to ignore.

I would encourage you to begin your search, but to do so with the Bible. All faiths have their scriptures and their own stories. For a seeker with no prior knowledge of religion it is confusing. But we need to be clear. They are not all saying the same thing. In fact, they are very, very different. Okay, so they are different, but do they all contain some truth? Here it depends on what we mean by truth. The Bible's teaching is clear about this. The main truth we need to know is of course the truths that God has revealed to us. The whole story of the Bible from the first book to the last, explains these truths in a wide variety of ways and contexts, but most fully and completely in Jesus Christ, who said of himself that he is the 'way and the truth and the life (John 14 v 6) - a wild and outrageous claim if untrue - but pretty definitive if true of course.

This is why we encourage seekers to read the Bible, starting with the gospels in the New Testament. Discover who Jesus is; listen to what he taught; see the evidence of his signs and miracles; contemplate the account of his crucifixion and resurrection and then see in the Book of Acts, how the church grew from its experience of him. To be sure, to fully understand the New Testament, you need to have some understanding of the Old Testament as well, but for a person starting out with an open mind, start with the gospels. It would then be great to do a course such as Alpha or Christianity Explored with a local church. Here your questions can be listened to with others following the same course.

Imagine that the very thing you are really looking for is already right under your nose, but you thought that since it's old and not read much any more, that it can't be the right place to look. That is what many might think today of the Bible. Yet, for those who are truly seeking to know the truth about God, their encounter with Jesus Christ in the pages of the New Testament brings them to a living encounter with the true God about whom the Bible speaks. Why not try? What is there to lose? Listen for a moment to what the writer of this Psalm says in the Old Testament:

The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. Psalm 14 v2

God is looking for us to seek him. Does that surprise you? Listen then to what Jesus says:

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." Matthew 7 v7

That seems like a pretty good invitation. If we come with the right attitude of mind, come to the right place and reach out to Him, we shall find Him. 

If this speaks to you and you would like our help in exploring the Bible for yourself, just get in touch. Help is available and willingly given. No pressure, no sales-pitch and no cost.

 

Andrew Edwards

Pastor