Not long ago, I heard a politician interviewed for her stance on a particular issue. Her position had been criticized by the evangelical voting populace for whatever reason, and she was trying to defend herself as a strong Christian. In so doing, she adamantly stated, “I believe very strongly in my faith.” Well, whether she was a strong Christian or not is beyond the point that ought to be made from this statement. Instead, her statement brings up a sentiment that seems to be pervasive in our culture, and even in the Church; the sentiment that we put our faith in faith. Truth is relegated to the side, or not even considered at all, for many people. After all, what’s true for me may not be true for you. But is this true?
I found myself having to think about this question again when I was talking with a gentleman on an airplane. The issue of good deeds came up, and he was politely acknowledging that my good deeds stem from my faith, but that his good deeds stem from a different faith or philosophy. For him, the point was that as long as the good deed is done, the motivation does not matter. For this man, religion is good insofar as it motivates people to do good. But what was missing from the conversation was “truth.” What is actually true?
Christianity is a religion, or faith, completely wrapped up in truth. If it is not fundamentally and factually true in its claims, it falls apart as worthless dribble. Our faith rests on a true God (Jer.10:10) who gave us a true Word (Ps.19) that can be trusted. And it is the truth of our faith that must motivate us to live holy lives; and it is the truth of our faith that must drive our evangelism. Paul understood this when he wrote the Corinthians (1 Cor.15:3-5) about what was “of first importance…that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” For Paul, the Gospel was not about positive thinking or cleverly devised fairy tales—it was about the historical realities of the Gospel. Jesus Christ did indeed come from God to this earth physically during the reign of Caesar Augustus (Luke 2:1). Jesus Christ did, in fact, live and walk and work and speak among people as a person in the actual regions of Galilee and Samaria and Judea. Jesus was certainly tried by Pontius Pilate and physically executed on a cross outside Jerusalem. Jesus was physically raised from the dead on the third day, and was seen and heard by at least 500 witnesses before He literally ascended into heaven (1 Cor.15:6). This is where our hope rests – on this real person of Jesus. We do not point people to an idea about forgiveness or joy or even, generically, God. We point people to this Man—Who lived and died on this earth, and is coming again as King of Kings. We point people to this person, Son of Man and Son of God, in Whom we find forgiveness and joy and peace and life eternal.