As I look back on my 35 or so years of being a Christian, I'm very thankful for the foundation that was laid in my teenage years. I read some really good books by C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Josh McDowell, Phillip Yancey and Francis Schaeffer; and I was encouraged by several godly men to build my faith on the reality of God's Word-not just my feelings. Jesus was a real historical person who really said and really did the things the Bible describes. I don't believe one can hold the position that the Bible is "just a bunch of stories that people made up" without being intellectually lazy-or worse (but that is a gigantic topic for another day).
Today, I look around and see that the Bible describes the world we live in as it really is. The Bible describes man as constantly veering towards selfishness and it describes man as always wanting to rebel against God. We've got a million different ways to disobey our Creator and take control. The Bible does not portray man as basically good, and history bears this out with painful and horrendous emphasis (which is not to say that some people haven't done some very good things, some of the time). The Bible also describes man as all too willing to buy into Satan's original lie that we "surely will not die" and that if we disobey God we will "be like God." In other words, the Bible does not give us a fantasy land of unicorns and pixie dust, where "all of our dreams can come true"-no matter what false teachers (like Joel Olsteen, just to name one) would have us believe.
We should be glad that the messy, sinful world we live in is very much like the messy, sinful world that the Bible describes. Why? Because Christianity is about God redeeming mankind-not creating religious fantasies to cover up the often nightmarish existence that we all share. This nightmarish existence that we all share is most difficult to grapple with in America; this is the Land of Distraction and the Home of the Shallow. It seems we will go to any length in order to prolong our delusions.
Here's the greatest truth that we deny: We will all die.
I don't even know the names of my great grandparents, let alone have any pictures of them. Each of us, with our thousands of personal photographs, mementos, and belongings will also be forgotten within a generation or two (some of us will have our precious belongings liquidated while we're still drooling in a nursery home). Think about it: Completely Forgotten. I'm an artist, so there's a chance that my name will be remembered a little bit longer than most people, but still, I know that my earthly life will soon be over and forgotten.
What's truly shameful, in my way of thinking, is how this sobering reality should lead us to God, but even in many churches this reality is avoided. We should be asking ourselves: How and why did I get here? What will happen when I die? What is the meaning of my life? Instead of confronting us (lovingly confronting us) with these difficult and sobering questions, many pastors are telling us how to "reach our destiny" and "find the hidden keys to our purpose" and so on. They tell us that "we are meant for greatness" and that God has "planted a dream inside us" yet, all the while they never allow us to contemplate the reality of our impending fate-death itself.
The Christianity of the Bible confronts us with our sin, and reminds us of our death; it also confronts the sinful, deceptive and violent world we live in, and offers us redemption. Ephesians 1: 7-8 "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding." -Steven Kozar