How to Have Faith?
I once had a young man tell me that he wished he could believe in God. As I listened to him, I felt he was looking for a formula or method to create faith. Well, I wish I had a method, but I do not believe there is any scheme for creating faith. If you know of one please let me know. Faith is a mystery. However, it is not a total mystery.
One thing I do know is that hope is the beginning of faith and without it, faith does not stand a chance. In essence, you must want to believe that there is a God along with all of the implications that come with such a faith, i.e. you must have a will to believe.
If I am right the place to begin for the atheist, or for that matter anyone who is seeking faith, would be to ask oneself “do I really hope that there is a God?” Now, if ones hope is real, it would seem that it would lead to an earnest and diligent search for the true God. Anything less than this kind of search will never lead to the true God. One of the spiritual laws of the universe is that a half-hearted search will never find the real God. Unfortunately, this means that most religious folks do not know the true God, for the majority has never searched out God with their whole heart. The majority have inherited faith from their family or their culture. Now, in itself there is nothing wrong with inheriting your faith. One of the purposes of family is to pass along to the next generation the wisdom of their elders. However, second hand faith may not be good enough to whether the storms of life.
As said above, the true God only reveals himself to those that seek him intensely. A vital part of this seeking is an openness to obey him no matter what the cost. Many who seek him do not find him because they have something in their heart, or in their life that they are not willing to give up. They are like the very religious young man who asked Jesus about God; he was content until he was told that he had to give up his wealth and follow Jesus. When Jesus told this man that he must sell everything and follow him, Jesus was simply trying to raise the young man’s self-awareness and help him to see the real problem with his faith; he loved his riches more than God.
I believe the truth is that the majority of people actually hope there is no God, at least, not the God, which Jesus spoke about. However, to justify their ineptness toward this force, they reduce it to something that they can manage, like the God of the Deist or a God that resembles Santa Claus, thus we have religion. In this, religion is unbelief in the form of belief. Others simply ignore this force and suppress their awareness of it into the recesses of their minds. There it remains until they are forced to think about it because of some unpleasant experience like sickness, death or by the prodding of some babbling seer, which they quickly dismiss as a fanatic.
Then there are the so-called atheists, who are somewhat more honest than the above. These folks cannot play the game of the religious man or the indifferent man; they must justify their rebellion and unbelief by denying the very existence of God. They then can claim reason itself, for their unbelief. Some actually believe that reason alone forces them not to believe in God. In this clever move, they deny any personal responsibility for their unbelief, which is a new twist to the “devil made me do it” excuse. Right, it is no longer the devil; it is now reason. However, in reality, they are like the others, in that they seldom understand the real reason for their indifference and in their case, unbelief. They fail to see that their reason is the handmaiden of their will and it is their will, which hinders faith. Every counselor who works with addicts knows that the will controls reason. It is a myth of the Enlightenment that men can know something by reason alone. I guess they could if they wanted to but the truth is they don’t want to and they do not want to know, that they do not want to know. In this, we see the truth of what the seer says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
All of this would suggest that honesty along with hope would be a key ingredient in one’s search for God, not so much honesty about the existence of God, but honest about oneself and your own search and journey. In this, you must face your authentic self before you can face the true God. The real question is not, does God exist, but rather the question is; why do you not want to do God’s will?
It would seem that the way to faith is to start hoping that there is a God and start living as if there is one. Stop arguing with God and start listening. Ask God to change your will, not your mind, for it not your mind that is hindering faith. The reason you cannot wrap your head around God is because He is either too big or your head is too small. If it were purely a mind problem, there would be no intelligent believers and there would be no smart addicts. Therefore, the beginning place of faith is not to question God, but to question yourself. God is not on trial nor is his existence. No, it is you who is on trial and the question is, “will you find your authentic self”? This is not an easy task for creatures who are prone to believe lies and illusions. Good luck on your journey, it is not easy or comfortable.