Friday, July 29, 2005

Practical Advantages of Believing in the God of the Bible and His Son Jesus

Over the last several years I have posited the following question to 100’s if not 1000’s of atheists and agnostics: What are the practical advantages of being an atheist or agnostic? This has resulted in very spirited and lengthy discussions. The latest is taking place right now at blogcritics.

Certainly the question above includes the understanding that there must be obvious practical advantages to Christianity. A nonbeliever might say that there are only perceived advantages. One commentor in the current debate listed some of the advantages, such as fellowship, and said he could join the rotary and get the same thing.

In the course of these debates, many atheists and Christians have argued that belief is not about practical considerations, but about faith. For a while this idea made some sense to me. Faith is, after all, believing in that which we cannot see. The Bible even says that we in the current church will need to have more faith than the those in the 1st century church, because we cannot see Christ or talk to those folks who saw Christ.

After a great deal of tossing this ball back and forth, I believe that everyone either makes their decisions with regard to God based on reason and practical considerations, or after coming to faith in God, deciding there isn’t a God, or deciding not to decide, they will continue to evaluate their decision based on reason and things practical.

With that observation in mind, here begins a list of the practical advantages of being a Christian. It will certainly take several posts, and is a work in progress. I look forward to ideas from you.

1. The Hope of Heaven - If you have ever dealt with emotionally disturbed individuals, you will know that one of the most difficult problems to overcome is their hopelessness. Their feelings may be partially based on reality. They may have disabilities, major problems in their past, or lack certain kinds of life skills that make it hard to enjoy or experience life to the fullest. Certainly, even individuals in very difficult circumstances can overcome hopelessness through counseling or self help, but it is sometimes a big mountain to climb.

Others have few or none of the problems that might make hopelessness seem reasonable, but they have personality disorders or mental diseases that cause them to feel this way even when most around them would see great promise in their lives.

For most functioning adults, there is also that sometimes fleeting, sometimes very present question of what happens when we die. If one believes that life merely ends and we “sleep” permanently, this alone would cause many to feel hopeless, not only about the finality in their own lives, but also at the time that their loved ones pass away.

Believing that God’s word is true, and that there is a heaven to look forward to after death, provides a very unique kind of hope. A hope for eternal life. A hope for an end to present difficulties. A hope that loved ones will be seen again. A hope that answers to life’s most interesting questions will be answered. A hope that we will experience an entirely unknown and unknowable dimension with untold beauty and joy and peace. And the hope that we will one day meet Jesus.

These hopes have a very practical benefit to those who have faith that they are true. It greatly reduces anxiety about present problems, helps through the grieving process, and provides great comfort as we face our own death.

To continue to part 2 of this e-book go here

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