I can't believe, because...
These are some common reasons for rejecting Jesus – and why they don’t need to hold you back.
“I can’t trust in a God who lets people suffer.”
God created humans with the freedom to choose or reject him because he made us for love. He didn’t make us to be machines that perform tasks. He formed us to relate to him with love, the way he loves. And loving relationships require choice.
When the first people chose their own way instead of God’s (called sin), they introduced death and suffering to the world, a curse that every human has inherited since. As each of us rejects God’s way, we exclude ourselves from his goodness. And it hurts.
But suffering is not God wants for us. Our pain grieved him so much that he entered our world and endured the worst to save us from it. By taking on all of our suffering at the cross, he rescued us from a future of torment. All we need to do is choose him.
“Religion is just a crutch for the weak.”
It’s true: only people who are willing to admit their weakness can follow Jesus. They are the ones who can be honest about how broken we all are. It’s not a crutch we need – it’s new legs!
We have no hope of earning eternal life by ourselves. We can’t hold onto this life any longer than our time. We can’t maintain enough control over our lives to avoid hurting other people or being hurt ourselves. We’ve seen it in our personal lives, and we’ve seen it in history. Despite the ‘progress’ of science and philosophy and human achievements, our world is just as rife as ever with sickness, poverty, injustice, pollution, decay and death.
To follow Jesus, we have to be willing to say to him, “I’m weak, broken, wrong. I can’t make this work. I need you.” It’s an insurmountable hurdle for many people: we’re too proud to admit that we’re not strong enough, not right enough, not God enough. But it’s what God demands, because he can’t transform us into what we’re made to be when we refuse to accept that our Creator’s ways are better than ours.
Would you rather be a cripple with pride intact or rely on God to make you strong?
“I’m a good person. I don’t need to be saved from sin.”
People are amazing, all in some way reflecting the likeness of our good, generous and loving Creator. We have the inbuilt moral compass of our conscience that most people try to live by, and some do an amazing job. We feel proud when we can live to our own standards. But next to the absolute perfection of God we have no hope of measuring up. In fact, we can’t even comprehend what perfection is.
The Bible says that even our attempts at self-righteousness are like filthy rags to God (Isaiah 64:6). We’ve been tainted by sin (the rejection of God and his way of life), and we can’t clean it off. It’s far deeper than skin deep, like a cancer riddled through our bodies. Nobody is any better or any worse than anybody else. The results might seem better or worse, like the difference between a white lie and murder, but to God the wrong was turning our backs on him. And we’ve all done that.
If you find the idea that you’re a sinner offensive, have you ever wondered why you get so defensive? Would you be willing to let God show you what goodness really is?
“Science proves that God doesn’t exist.”
Science has not proven or disproven the existence of a creator God or offered a solution in which the natural world is completely self-creating. Therefore, in our unlikely universe the possibility of a creator is wide open. For many people, including great scientists and thinkers, the idea of an intelligent creator makes much more sense than an accidental process, given the ever-increasing complexity we discover in our world.
To believe either in a world created by God or a world created by chance demands faith. One of those options invites you to personally discover the source of the universe through relationship. What’s holding you back from exploring that option?
“The Bible is unreliable and out of date.”
The truth of what the Bible says has not been proven or disproven. The great supernatural claims of the Bible might be hard to believe, but we can be confident that the document itself is an authentic historical document. We have good evidence through archaeology and comparison with other texts of the time that the content of the Bible has been passed down accurately.
The leap of faith that the Bible requires is that we believe it’s writing truthfully, which is a challenge especially if we have closed our minds to anything that is not scientifically proven or experienced by us. But if the Bible is what it says it is, and what many people have experienced for over 2000 years, then it can transform our lives and redefine our future. It is God’s invitation to know him, making it vitally important to every person across all of time.
Can you open your mind enough to ask God to show you his truth through the Bible?
“All religions worship the same God.”
If something really is true, then anything that contradicts that must be false. All of the world religions can’t be completely right, since they say opposing things about history, morality, salvation and the character of God. Jesus clearly set himself apart from all other religions when he said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) If, as Jesus says, there is only one way to God, it can’t also be true that there are many ways to God.
To say that all religions are the same, just alternative perspectives or pathways to the same reality, is a disrespectful distortion of those faiths. Have you found evidence to support the belief that all religions are true, or are you avoiding making a decision about God and his role in your life?
“Christianity causes war and violence.”
Great evils have been done in the name of Christianity, including horrific injustices like the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and the Troubles in Northern Ireland. But that doesn’t mean that the people who did those things were obeying Jesus. Many ‘religious’ wars have served a political agenda under the ruse of serving God.
Jesus taught and demonstrated a life of peace and non-violence. He told us to love all people despite our differences, even when they hate us (Matthew 5:43–48). To take up weapons to ‘defend’ Jesus is to disobey him. He told a disciple attempting to do so to put away his sword (Matthew 26:52). John Dickson says, “The problem with the inquisitions is not that they were Christian, it’s that they weren’t Christian enough.”
On the other hand, a lot of the good seen in the world today is a result of people following Jesus. The major anti-slavery movements were led by Christians. Great aid organisations have been started and run by Christians. Arguably the West’s sense of charity and human rights comes from the love and human value taught by Jesus, an ethic that was not previously prevalent in the world.
The ideas under this heading come from the ‘Religious Violence’ episode from the Towards Belief series by Olive Tree Media. Check out the fantastic video at: https://ssl.olivetreemedia.com.au/Shop.aspx?productID=20&minisiteID=7
“If God is like his followers, I don’t want to know him.”
We all make mistakes, including Christians. Christians don’t claim to be better than anyone else. They know that their only hope for God’s acceptance is trust in Jesus: they simply could not be good enough by themselves. They trust the promise that as they follow Jesus, he will graciously transform them to be more like him (2 Corinthians 3:16–18).
Because of this, people expect to see Christians acting like Christ. Unfortunately, just because somebody is representing God doesn’t mean they always do what God wants. We’re all given the dangerous freedom to reject God’s ways and follow our own (called sin). When we put our trust in Jesus, the eternal penalty of our sin is dissolved. However, until we die, we live in a corrupted world that keeps offering the temptation to sin.
And sometimes Christians do sin and make mistakes. It’s shocking, hurtful, wrong and especially disappointing when somebody violates their own moral standards, when they don’t practice what they preach. But even though people aren’t perfect, God is.
We can’t judge God based on people, just like we can’t know somebody based on a drawing of them. Even the most beautiful artwork can only describe a person in a limited way – or it might totally misrepresent them! Like a drawing, people can only reflect God in a limited way, and we often get it wrong. Maybe it’s time to stop being the critic and meet the subject yourself.