One of the beautiful challenges of attending a secular university has been being forced to look at Christianity through a different lens from what I had been used to in the past. Growing up in the church, I had inherited Christianity from my family. However, I was eager to give it away as I concluded my high school years and started a new chapter of life in the university setting. During this time, I felt my belief system being deconstructed (not because of professors; it was my own doing), and could no longer look at religion as anything other than wishful thinking. I had embarked on my journey as an agnostic. Incredulous and skeptical, I eventually wondered into the thick fog of nihilism. When God became unapproachable, life became meaningless; and a person can only live so long like that.
Years later, I would again encounter the gospel of Jesus Christ, and for the first time, really begin to understand the implications of the good news. This is revolutionary for the soul. It’s as if the blinds have been lifted up, and we can now gaze out of the window to behold and wonder at the depth and beauty of an ocean before us. After discovering the beauty of the gospel, I plunged headfirst into the depths of Christian theology, desperate to understand who God was, and how I could relate to him. But it wouldn’t be much longer before new doubts would begin to surface.
Deciding to study religion from the perspective of a scholar was one of the best decisions I had ever made. I was constantly confronted with views contrary (or even hostile) towards my own. Being a relatively new Christian at this point, I found myself unable to answer many (if not most) of the objections to my Christian worldview that my fellow university students and my professors had thrown in my direction. This inevitably began an obsession with Christian apologetics that continues to this day. It wasn’t that I needed to hold on to some shallow or nostalgic Christian worldview for ‘old time’s sake;’ I needed truth. My precious nihilism had failed me in the past, and atheism I knew would only collapse in on itself. Certainly there must be a greater truth in the universe. Through my experience as a new Christian, I knew I had encountered God, and that this God that I had encountered had changed something fundamental in the deepest parts of who I was as a human. I approached Christianity mostly agnostic—though not completely ready to trash my personal experiences with Christianity. But what I began to notice, as I listened to dozens of debates between Christians, atheists, and apologists from other religious, is that that Christianity held up remarkably well… In fact, despite the best attempts of the opposition to drown out the Christian worldview, Christianity kept its head well above the water, while other worldviews had long funneled down to the abyss. This breathed new life into my soul. It wasn’t just personal experience I needed to rely on in order to justify my beliefs, there was remarkable evidence out there to support my beliefs.
But fast-forwarding to the present, I must admit that the biggest struggle I have with Christianity has nothing to do with personal experience or evidence. I’m confident that I have experienced the life-changing power of Jesus Christ, and I don’t worry much about having my legs kicked out from under me while I’m defending my faith (though I’m an elementary apologist, I’ll be the first to admit). Nearly all my questions about the validity of Christianity have been answered with precision and excellence. These things aren’t my issue.
My issue with Christianity is that I do not understand God’s love for me. I cannot even begin to fathom it. This is what I simply have the hardest time grasping. My mind stretches and tears trying to wrap itself around God’s love. Lately, when my doubts arise, this is the form that they choose to take. How can God love me? How can this truly be? The moment I begin to understand it just a little, I cannot help but feel the desire to fall onto my knees and weep. It is a nakedness that goes beyond the flesh. It is as if I was a criminal who, not only had been cleared of my charges, but has been embraced by an indescribable love that transcends the total sum of all the worldly love in it’s fullest capacity, despite what I’ve done. I wish I could grasp it–but I simply cant. Every time I reach for it, I am knocked to my knees the moment I touch it. The hardest question for me was never “how could a good God send people to hell,” but “why would a perfect God let anyone into heaven?” It goes beyond words. It goes beyond understanding. God’s love is my greatest struggle. It is the aspect of Christianity that I simply do not understand.