I was a church this morning and as one of the singers was singing, the words of the song made me think. I don’t remember the exact words but the gist of the song was that even when the Lord didn’t move the mountains the singer wishes were moved or calm the sea they wish were calmed, they would still trust in God. In the absence of affirming evidence and what seems like evidence to the contrary, the singer would have “faith”.
Even after all these years of walking with my Lord I asked myself the obvious question (because that’s the way He made me). Clearly it is a convenient coincidence that Christianity requires this kind of deference to “God’s will”. If He answers a particular prayer or if He chooses not to answer a particular prayer in the way we would like or expect, from a doctrinal perspective the result is the same – we must trust in Him.
So can I know I am not deceived, that what I believe makes sense?
I think I can know and I think it does make sense, and this is why.
From a purely secular perspective, hope is better than despair and love is better than hate. We all know hope and love make our experience of life better. We are healthier and more likely to see and exploit opportunity. If we understand we are not totally self sufficient, it is easier to learn (since we realize we don’t already know it all). Even our disappointments and defeats can ultimately improve our lives if we will let them. Nobody wants to be around someone who has always gotten their way or never had to overcome hardship. We call those people spoiled. So the attributes of life I desire (found in Galatians 5:22-23) are what we generally think of as “good”.
So how would my behavior be different if I chose not to believe? Would it be better or worse?
Ideally my behavior would not change for the reasons mentioned above, only the justification changes. I may choose a different religion or none at all. Since a different religion would just be a different deception let us leave that aside for the moment. Therefore the question boils down to whether I should have faith in something external to myself or should my choices be based in myself, my discernment, my ability to judge.
Since the question of my behavior is focused on my interactions with other beings (even God), basing that behavior on myself seems logically inconsistent. That is, it does not make sense, it seems to me this is the deception.
So faith in God is consistent with the life I desire, a good life. It should also be obvious that requiring trust in the absence of experience to the contrary is part and parcel of how faith is made real.
I therefore confidently sing with the psalmist…
“I gladly place my trust in things I can not see
My faith still holds on to the Christ of Calvary.”