Monday, June 16, 2014

3 Good Reasons to Question What You Believe

Introduction
Many people like to ask questions, and not just basic questions that get us through day-to-day life, but questions that go beyond our basic routines. Questions that examine who we are, why we are here, from where have we come. Questions that are on all our minds, but many fear to ask. Some are afraid they may discover something they do not like; some are afraid they may offend another's answers to the same questions; some do not believe the questions can be answered with any level of confidence; and some do not believe that such questions are even legitimate to ask. Unfortunately, those fears often prevent people from asking the deeper questions, and they either struggle quietly with them or ignore them altogether.

When confronted with deep questions, we are forced to reexamine what we ultimately believe. Often they cause doubt about what we have held dear and what we have dedicated our lives to. These challenges are difficult to overcome, and many times understanding the reasons why truly wrestling with the deeper questions is preferable to not doing so will go a long way to help us overcome our reluctance to enter the struggle. Today I want to discuss three reasons why it is important that every person questions what they believe.



1. You Could Be Wrong!
This is the reason that seems to be the most obvious, yet it is responsible for the most reluctance. Who really likes to be wrong about things? As kids we get in trouble for doing what is wrong; as students we receive lower grades when we get a question wrong; as adults we are reprimanded at work and may even lose our jobs over being wrong. But these are merely effects that can last a relatively short amount of time. As kids we learn to do what is right; as students we learn the correct answers, and as employees we learn what is expected. However, when we are wrong about the deeper questions, it can cast horrible shadows on our lives. If we have lived our lives with a wrong worldview, we could see that we have wasted our lives- an implication that becomes worse with age. We could see that we have led many others down the same wrong path, including our children, friends, and students.

Questioning what we believe necessarily involves the possibility that we may be wrong about these deeper questions, thus the implications described are real possibilities. None of us like this possibility, and it keeps many of us from questioning what we believe. However, if we do not question what we believe, we may continue down the same path of wasting our lives to something false and continuing to push what is wrong onto those we love. What is done is done. But if it is wrong, we should not be so emotionally attached to our past that we prefer to continue with what is wrong. It is better that we make a change to begin no longer wasting our lives (even if we only have a few more years) and begin teaching what is right (even if we may only affect a few people compared to before) than it is to continue to add to the problem. If we treasure truth over error and desire to communicate truth rather than error, then we have good reason to not be afraid of being wrong and to question what we believe.

2. Knowledge and Worship of God Will be Deeper
Merely having the correct worldview in general is not enough, though. We need to understand who God is and our relationship to Him to be able to worship Him "in spirit and in truth" (John 4). For those who already have the correct worldview in general, they may still be wrong about the details. We are all familiar with the divides within the Christian Church over different doctrines. Some have to do with beliefs about who God is and how He works, others focus on practices, and still more address the issue of proper authority that we can look to to reveal truth about the others. Those who are familiar with this blog know that I engage in these discussions and debates often.

If we have a misunderstanding of who God is, and we devote our worship and teaching to this false idea, then we are not only negatively affecting our own relationship with our Creator, but we are also affecting the relationship of those around us- stifling their knowledge and worship of the Creator. I like how philosopher William Lane Craig put it in his book "The Only Wise God":
"I have found that the more I reflect philosophically on the attributes of God the more overwhelmed I become at his greatness and the more excited I become about Bible doctrine. Whereas easy appeals to mystery prematurely shut off reflection about God, rigorous and earnest effort to understand him is richly rewarded with deeper appreciation of who he is, more confidence in his reality and care, and a more intelligent and profound worship of his person."
If we begin with a certain understanding of who God is and how He works (or has worked in history) and never investigate, refine or adjust it, we remain with a childish faith- one that may be generally placed correctly (in the one true God), but one that misunderstands Him. If we challenge our beliefs about who God is, how He works, and what He has done in the past, we begin the process of removing the false ideas about God and growing in a more mature and accurate knowledge of His person.

3. Making Sense Of Your Past and Future
If we have the proper understanding of who God is, how He works, and what He has done in the past, we will be able to make sense of our own past and the past of others. One of the great questions of life is, "If God is so loving and powerful, why did He allow <insert devastating event here> to happen?" Simply knowing the purposes behind the events of our lives does not remove the pain of the experiences, but they help us to make sense of the experiences. If someone has a worldview that does not include God, then no sense can be made of any experience we have- everything is just action and reaction with no purpose. Every past event has no purpose and no future decision has a purpose. If we do not understand God properly, we may see past experiences outside the context of love and the desire for God to bring us and others closer to Him. We also may see our entire future as having no meaning or hope.

Conclusion
Having the understanding that God exists and properly understanding who He is will help us place our past and future into proper perspective. This prepares us to communicate hope and the message of Good News to others who are also suffering the same experiences we have. Our common experiences provides us with a powerful connection to those suffering similarly, a proper understanding allows us to make sense of that suffering and for God to use us to bring more into eternal life. If we question what we believe in general, then what we believe about who God is, it prepares us to have a more fulfilled life of meaning and purpose and prepare us and others for eternity with our Creator. If we allow our fears to prevent us from questioning what we believe about God's existence or who He is, we deny ourselves a rich relationship that can be experienced only by truly knowing God; and we deny that to others whom we influence on a daily basis. Given these reasons, it is difficult to deny the importance of questioning what we believe, and it is borderline sinful to allow our fears to keep us from doing it. The choice is yours: will you choose to stagger through life, remaining stagnant in your understand of reality and God, or will you question your beliefs and become the passionate and vibrant witness to the Truth of Jesus Christ that will give purpose and meaning to your very existence?

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