Why We 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
Without the light of Christianity I was blind. I saw only shadows of the real, like the imprisoned characters in the back of Plato’s Allegory of the cave. I was released from my ignorance by and through grace, and as I climbed the difficult path out of the cave of my ignorance, my eyes grew more used to the light until I was able to see God in the face for who he is. I saw God in the face when I looked at Jesus and saw what he did for me, and for all of humanity, by coming into the world, to show us the nature of the Father’s love and mercy. Jesus keeps the light of faith before me, and deepens it in me, through His Holy Spirit shining brightly in, and through, the Christian Church.
The truth about life is presented, in all of its clarity, in the teachings of the Christian Church. It teaches us that we are weak, that we are often blinded by our own egos, yet when we come to the humbling realization that we are not in charge, God’s mercy is there to help us get back on track and to stay there. It teaches us that the wisdoms of the world are really fool’s gold in relationship to the Truth of God, who is love unconditional.
The Church helps us form our consciences in union with the truth of God. It helps us to grow up, to become responsible for the world and for our brothers and sisters, whether we know them, or whether they are strangers to us. Our responsibility toward one another is not just a matter of human law, but it is rooted in a true and just love for the known and the unknown other.
The Church teaches us that the fallen world’s foolishness is the source of all that is dark, destructive, and devious. It teaches us to confront the darkness of the world with the light of forgiveness, with loving acceptance and service. When we are struck on one cheek, we are taught to offer the other, rather than to respond in like kind. When we see the hungry, the thirsty, the imprisoned, the sick, we are taught to feed, to give drink, to challenge, to visit, and to comfort the suffering other, unconditionally.
When the world ridicules, maligns, or accuses us, we are taught to respond with patient endurance, and compassion. We are to love one another as Jesus loved us, because in the light of truth, we know that God IS love and is the source of eternal life.
We are also taught that the world’s foolishness is real, that suffering will come our way for living in the light of God’s truth. There are forces in the world who foolishly believe that they can defy and defeat God’s will and pull us back into the darkness by intimidation and ridicule. We, though, are taught that fear itself is wasted on us. We have nothing to fear for we have the One Who is the source of all that is true, good and beautiful, on our side. We see beyond the shadows of fear and greed and the dark pride of ego. We can do this because we stand in the eternal light of God’s love.
We’re taught, too, the paradox that the world is full of beauty and much goodness. We are taught that we have a responsibility to honor creation, to protect, to encourage, and to promote all that is good and beautiful in this God-created world. We have a responsibility to steward the natural beauty and resources that God has given us and surrounded us with. We are conservationists in the truest sense. We know that God placed us in charge of this place and expects us, like the good steward, to keep it and to increase it in cooperation with our generous God.
We are taught that God made all of us in goodness. That, though we are fallen, we are all brothers and sisters, that we have an undeniable connection to each other, and an inescapable responsibility toward one another. It is because of us that we ‘see’ the light of forgiveness and mercy toward each other’s weaknesses and and failures.
Though the world may often claim ownership of our bodies, though it may, all too often, claim the power to damage our bodies, or even to destroy our very lives, we know that the world’s power, at best, is temporary, and it is always limited. Though the world can be dark and painful, it is not the end. Our Christian faith sheds such a pure light on the world that we can see its foolishness and its natural beauty for what they really are. It also shows us how to avoid the world’s temptations, and gives us the grace to move more and more regularly toward the light of salvation.
We believe in Christianity, then, not because we can see it, but because by it we see everything else.
Dan Doyle is a retired professor of English and Humanities. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology. To read more of Dan’s work, click here.