- (By CP Cartoonist Rod Anderson)
If you are under the impression that a person cannot be both a Christian and a skeptic, you need to rethink your position. The truth is that most Christians are skeptics, albeit of a different kind than people typically associate with that word.
Christians are skeptical of human nature. The reason? Scripture affirms what our experience tells us. Namely, everyone is a sinner and is capable of disappointing us. And in some cases, even deceiving us.
That's not to say that Christians, by their new nature, are suspicious people. That just isn't the case with most believers. What we do find in most Christians is an utter amazement at man's willingness to place so much confidence in his own opinions, feelings and hunches. Christians as a whole tend to place less stock in those unreliable and subjective assumptions. It has to do with Christians being grounded in God's Word and His description of human nature.
Oswald Chambers wrote, "Our Lord trusted no man; yet He was never suspicious." The apostle John wrote, "Jesus would not entrust Himself to them, for He knew all men." (John 2:24) As Christians, we know ourselves better today than we did prior to our conversion. We see spiritual things that we didn't see back then. That doesn't mean we see everything, or understand every spiritual reality.
For example, Christians are continually perplexed at man's arrogant confidence to live life trusting in his own righteousness and his personal pursuit of morality. It's almost like we forget how we used to think before we came to know the Lord and His grace. Christians now look at these humanistic efforts on man's part and wonder, "How can those folks actually believe they are good enough on their own to be acceptable to God?"
Many people do indeed have tremendous faith in themselves, and their ability to perform religious requirements at a level which they think God will likely accept. Christians have come to learn the folly of such thinking. In fact, it is downright dangerous to believe such a thing.
As the apostle Paul wrote, "Clearly no one is justified before God by the law." (Galatians 3:11) "No one" means "no one," regardless of his religious pedigree. This basic understanding of God's Law and Gospel is foundational to Christian faith.
C.S. Lewis said, "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." That pretty well sums up why Christians are skeptics of a different kind.
By God's grace, Christians are able to now see how helpless they are at getting to God apart from the cross of Christ. If man could work his way there, do you honestly think Jesus Christ would have left heaven and come here to suffer and die? Seriously, how insane would that have been if man already had a path to paradise?
The insane one is not God, but the man who thinks he can get along just fine without God. It could be called "spiritual insanity." Sin has caused man to be out of his mind when it comes to God, religion, heaven, hell, angels, demons, and the like. There is no spiritual revelation apart from what the Holy Spirit teaches us. Anything else is just a fairy tale. There are many wild stories in the realm of religion. But there is also truth in that realm, and it can only be learned and received through God's work in our life.
Without Jesus, there is no spiritual discernment. He is the light. He is the way. He is the Creator. And He is the Savior of the world. How could we ever hope to know the truth unless Jesus is at the center of our learning?
Most people seem perfectly content to place their faith in their subjective feelings, rather than in the objective anchor of God's holy Word. Man assumes that his feelings can be trusted. Not only that, but man tends to place an enormous amount of confidence in his feelings. So much so, man is even willing to stake his own soul on what he feels is right. That is a dangerous approach which often leads to disaster.
We've all been there. And many are still there. Apart from God's grace, we would all be like ships tossing around on rough and uncertain waters. But when the grace of God appears to us in the Person of Jesus Christ, things change. Our perspective changes. We start to see things as they really are, and not merely how we feel they should be. We begin to base our life upon the bedrock of Scripture rather than the sinking sand of human emotion and opinion. That is the only way to know we are standing on solid ground.
And this is precisely why Christians are skeptics of a different kind. We have come to see how fallible man is in his thoughts, behavior, and opinions. We have come to accept "the gold standard" of spiritual values. We have the Word of God to rely upon for truth, wisdom, and direction. That's not to say we stop learning from others. But we recognize that all learning which is truly transformational can only come from the source that is eternal and holy.
Man can be trusted, but only to a certain point. Some people are more trustworthy than others. But God is always completely trustworthy. He never fails. He never breaks a promise. That, by the way, is how a Christian can honestly say, "I know I will live with Him forever in paradise. He promised it in His Word to all who trust in His Son."
Everything else in life pales in comparison to God's faithfulness and goodness. It actually enables Christians to live as "skeptics," but not to be suspicious and unable to trust people. We approach life with some "inside information" about man's nature, and man's tendency to advance his opinions based merely on feelings and emotions.
Are you sure you know God? Would you like to meet Him? There is a way. There is an objective path upon which to walk across "the bridge to heaven." Your soul will get there first, at least in terms of your "guaranteed reservation." You will immediately be "seated with Christ in the heavenly realms." (Ephesians 2:6) Your body will catch up later.
And oh, by the way, it will be a new body. A perfect body. (see 1 Cor. 15:35-57) How do I know that? By feelings? No. Because God says so. That's enough for me. How about you?
Skepticism is not all bad, especially when it comes to understanding man's nature. Man is often led off track by his feelings, while God is always consistent in presenting the truth. When you come to understand those realities, it shapes your worldview and brings it into focus through the lens of heaven.
So are you ready to grasp spiritual truth from God's perspective? Don't be afraid to come close to Him. He won't bite.