The world is filled with chaos, war and strife. In Africa, innumerable numbers of individuals suffer and die from AIDS, poverty and hunger. Genocide and mass murder of groups with varying cultures continues. Regularly, soldiers and civilians die in Iraq. Terrorism scare tactics threaten throughout the world and the Middle East remains a hotbed for horror. China moves forward with its "Big Brother" actions and North Korea downplays its nuclear capacity. In such a world, how can I believe in God? Because it is more important to believe now than it ever was before, especially with such uncertain world. As Voltaire once said: "To believe in God is impossible. Not to believe in Him is absurd."
One of the main reasons I believe in God is that it makes me feel more secure amidst this growing instability. Because we live in such an insecure world, it is impossible to exist without fear of a threat either from a personal fate such as a serious illness of oneself or someone I love or from a terrible national or international event. A strong belief in a higher power offers me the support needed to anticipate and, if necessary, confront such fears. It is human instinct to try and make one's life as secure as possible and decrease or resolve dangers that could threaten.
As human beings, we have significant control over some parts of our lives: where we live, what jobs we have, which outside interests we enjoy, and so forth. But there are also many larger, much more complex issues that are impossible to delegate or control. For such unmanageable matters, it is important to trust in a more powerful being or spirit. Belief in this divinity can give support and strength when needed. It can also offer hope that there is indeed an answer to what is occurring, even if is not apparent at the present time. Recognizing that a higher authority exists allows us to feel that there will be a resolution to a problem despite its severity: In one way or another things will improve. We once again have the desire to stop our stagnant or backward behavior and slowly proceed forward.
At the same time, this belief in God provides the support required to accomplish those things I can control. It lets me conquer my fears and bad habits, work toward my dreams and goals and complete daily goals and objectives that are being hindered by other obstacles. Working alone on these issues are very difficult. However, with divine help it becomes all the easier.
On a positive note, belief in a God or higher power gives us a means for rejoicing and giving praise. When things go well, there is a higher being that can be thanked, appreciated and extolled. There is happiness knowing that goodness can happen and happen often. It makes us realize how fortunate we are to have our friends, family, home, health and livelihood. If we believe enough, we also know that this higher power will be with us at the time of death -- the most fragile time of all.
For this same reason, people can believe in miracles. They know that God will sometimes test their faith. They also know that God will reward them with unexpected and unfathomable miracles. Again, it is the strong belief in God's goodness and the inherent hope within everyone that miracles can and do happen.
Believing in God and being part of a religion or group of people who believe in God in a similar fashion gives me something else I so very much need: a community. Independence is healthy. People need a sense of independence and oneness in their lives. However, too much self-sufficiency causes alienation, loneliness and depression. We all need to seek and find individuals with like interests with whom we can share and learn. There is a spiritual and emotional high that I reach when going to a religious service when the whole congregation joins together in praising the wonders of God. Everyone in that room knows that not only are we not alone on earth because of the presence of God, but also because of the presence of those who have similar beliefs. There is a hand to hold, a hug to receive if things go bad. "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!" (Romans 11:33)
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning" (James 1:17).
A belief in a higher power also gives humans something toward which to strive. It is a reason to continually better oneself intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. God has given us the means for making this a better world through our actions and deeds. We should not be content with the status quo: Rather, we must always find things we can do to enhance far-from-perfect conditions.
Which God to believe in? Muslim? Buddhist? Jewish? Why the Christian God? Why put my belief and efforts toward the Christian faith rather than another?
First of all, because the words of Christ have won the test of time. They are as crucial today as they were 2000 years ago. In addition, there is an abundance of textual witnesses to the Christian faith: over 5,300 manuscripts or portions of the New Testament. The integrity of this historical and geographical record is supported by archeology. The accuracy with which it has been copied and handed down has been confirmed by the Dead Sea Scrolls. In addition, the book on which the Christian faith relies tells one event that begins with creation and concludes on the threshold of eternity. Every day, even until today, the Bible continues to speak not only with spiritual power but with detailed accuracy.
Similarly, there are a large number of New Testament writers who witnessed Jesus' acts: The disciples, for example, "were eyewitnesses of His majesty" and "did not follow cleverly invented stories" (Peter 1:16). Peter also spoke for other witnesses when he said, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (John 6:68-69).
The Christian God's continuance with the earliest ancestral roots heightens our recognition that He is the answer. Those who trust Christ are accepting the same Creator and Lord worshiped by those in the Old Testament. Jesus did not reject the past. He was the being that linked the past to the ever present. When He lived among mankind, He showed how to live according to the original plan. When He died, He fulfilled the Old Testament sacrificial system. And when He rose from the dead, his salvation answers God's promise to Abraham that through his descendent He would bring blessings to the whole world.
As noted above, people like myself believe in God because we want to know there is a rhyme and reason to what is taking place throughout the world. We also want to have a reason to hope and plan. The Christian God offers this reassurance, and the Christian faith reflects the caring attention to detail so evident in the natural world. It is Christ who speaks of a Father who keeps track of everything in this world: "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father" (Matthew 10:29-31). It is Christ who reveals a God who shows how much He cares for all that He has created. It is Christ who lived like the rest of us humans to feel what we feel, and then to suffer and die in our place. It is Christ who reveals a God who cares as much about His creation as the design and detail of the natural world. "Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you" (Peter: 5:7).
The teachings of Christ give humankind a place to reach if we are to better ourselves. "And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind" (John: 9:24-39). As noted, the world offers hardships -- some that we can influence if not control. The Bible says that society's real problems are problems of the heart. In an age of radical change, massive information systems and complex technology, our failures of character are all too often seen in families, friendships, government, science, industry, religion, education, and the arts. And in the most sophisticated society ever, we still face the issues of prejudice, addiction, abuse, bigotry and deceit. To all people Jesus said, "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which…