Kehrberg: Why do I believe?
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else. — C.S. Lewis
During a supper discussion about how many of their classmates don’t attend church, my 11-year-old daughter said, “We go to church because we live with you. We’re Christian because we’re your kids.”
Indeed. There’s nothing like your kid pointing out the uncomfortably obvious.
She paused. “Why are we Christian? I mean, why do we believe in God?”
I was chilled to find I didn’t know what to say.
If she would have asked, “What do we believe?” I could have extemporaneously summarized the Nicene Creed.
If she would have asked, “How do you prove God is real?” I would have answered, “I can’t.”
Many Christians spend their lives banging their heads up against Western society’s challenge to prove God. While I appreciate their efforts and intentions, I’d like to offer them a cool compress and a soft pillow.
But why I believe? For this I was completely unprepared.
Should one have a statement of belief, crafted and ready to deliver? Wouldn’t that be an attempt to prove belief, which isn’t meant to be proven? Belief encompasses confident knowledge, as well as sincere doubt. How do you express that in a systematic way?
My daughter’s gaze, more curiosity than challenge, convinced me that I didn’t have the luxury of answering with, “I know that I know that I know,” or quoting Bible verses that require pre-existing belief in God to give them any kind of authority.
I am 38 years old and have believed in God all of those years. This is my first attempt to say why:
Despite unflagging efforts, the mystery of our origin is unsolved. There is no proof, and there won’t be.
I believe God is the Creator of our physical world, because it is far from purely physical.
The stars sing, the waters dance, and our hearts seek the unseen and the unknown, which is to say, the spiritual. It makes sense that creation’s source is both body and spirit, as God claims to be.
Though it is impossible to have true justice on this earth, humans continue to strive for it — for wrongs to be made right and good to triumph. We do not strive in vain. I believe God is perfect justice and will one day bring full and final judgment.
The Christian God is the only god who knowingly and willingly sacrificed himself for his people. This could be weakness or folly. Or it could explain why sacrificial love cannot be evolved out of the human race.
We love those who don’t deserve it, put others’ needs before our own, give and receive forgiveness. Without God this makes absolutely no sense.
But because God is God, sacrifice is strength. Mercy is true power. Love is not strange.
In essence, I believe in God because it is only God who connects all the disparate dots of our reality. So much more could be said. This beginning is more a statement about the validity of the attempt than anything else.
To believe in God is to claim Truth. To hold Truth is to have hope.
And so, my darling girl, if I can answer your question in any understandable way, I will have offered the most precious of gifts.
Of course, the soul most in need of my answer is mine.
Sarah Kehrberg lives in Swannanoa, N.C., and attends Asheville Mennonite Church.
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