It's time to get real about why we believe there is a God. We are losing an entire generation of believers because we are not willing to be honest about why we believe. We market our churches with the fine programs we offer, only they are not enough to keep people's interest. We become entertainers in a world of entertainers. The church is becoming background noise in a world filled with background noise. Our nicely designed churches with our multimedia presentations and our great talks that sound more like psychology than the Word of God, are not enough to convince the world that they need to believe. In all our modern methodology where is the reason why people need to believe in a world moving further away from the need for faith?
Why do I need to believe? Perhaps I should introduce myself. Hi, I'm Paul and I'm a sinner. Yes, I am a man who has been trapped in my dependence on sin. I was unable to escape and didn't even realize I needed to escape. It wasn't until I encountered Jesus that I realized my condition but thankfully Jesus had the answer. Now I am able to say that I am a sinner who has been set free from my dependence because of the unmerited favour of God. We refer to this as God's grace. Without my belief in God I would be stuck being no better than I am today. With my belief and the release of God's power in my life because of it, I am being changed, being improved, being transformed into something more than I am today.
I had no idea how badly I was trapped by things I did not even realize were part of me. I was greedy, self-centered, callous, mean, a user of people which led to things such as stealing, pornography, lying, abandoned relationships, manipulation. Even on my very best days, when the world thought I was a great guy, I was a terrible, wretched man. It did not matter how much I wanted to change, how many New Year's resolutions I made, what help I sought from the world, I could not escape the state I was in because it was knit into the very fibers of my being. Yet, I was blind to what I was. There is a proverb that states it nicely:
All a man’s ways seem right to him,
but the LORD weighs the heart. (Proverbs 21:2)
I thought I was living a good life. I thought I was the master of my own destiny. I thought I was in control. I thought it was all good but my heart was all wrong. It is the heart that matters to God. We look at the difference in Cain's and Abel's sacrifices. One was accepted and the other wasn't because God knew the condition of the heart. We can live what appears to be a great life, in great service and we can conform our behaviour to be accepted in the church but God does not measure any of this when he looks at the heart. This is why it is silly to complain about the actions of the lost.
The issue is not behaviour. What does it matter if a person is living with someone outside of marriage and what does it matter if someone is homosexual? What does it matter if a person is using the Lord's name in vain or is prostituting themselves? What does it matter if a child is disobedient or that a parent is a drunk? Without Jesus they are lost anyway and it is only Jesus who can transform the heart to be in the right condition. It is only this transformed heart that produces actions that are more honouring to God. The message of the Bible can be understood from this proverb:
The horse is made ready for the day of battle,
but victory rests with the LORD. (Proverbs 21:31)
When we turn our hearts to God, when we seek his face, we are recognizing our wretched condition but we are still unable to make any changes. We desire to be changed, we ready the horse for the battle, but it is God who does the work, he does the transforming, he does the changing, he saves us from the trap of sin because we couldn't save ourselves.
I need to believe not because I need to believe in a bigger purpose for my life, not because I need explanations for the unexplained, not because I need to escape from reality, not because I need a crutch. I need to believe because I need to be rescued from the sin that is propelling me to my destruction. I need to be transformed from the wretched state to which I was born into what God always intended me to be. A polished church is not going to do it for me. A list of rules is not going to do it for me. Preaching psychology at me is not going to do it for me. Only a real and vibrant relationship with Jesus will change me in the manner in which I need to be changed. Only a relationship where I understand who I really am and who Jesus really is will change me. Only realizing that I can do nothing for myself and Jesus can do it all will allow him to transform my heart, to transform my life and eternity. I need to believe because it is the only way to life in the present and life for eternity. The world needs to believe for one simple reason: to be saved.