What is it that you believe? And why do you believe it? How do you know what is right? What is true? Can you really ever be sure?
Please excuse my ponderings this evening. I've just tried to explain to my ten-year-old why I believe in God. He wonders how you know which religion is right. Oh, my!
I think everyone has to go through this process. I've had to go through it repeatedly, in fact. Whenever I'm confronted with a different belief, I have to test it to determine if it's true.
When I was in high school, I believed that God orchestrated evolution in some way. I don't really believe in evolution, now, but I had to learn a lot more about God and a lot more about evolution in order to make that choice.
When I was in college, I believed that God was the same in every religion, and people just called Him by different names. I don't believe that, now, either, but I had to find out more about my God, and more about the other religions to make that choice.
I have been taught about Mormonism by Mormons, and about Jehovah by Jehovah's Witnesses, and I have had to decide if they were right. So I studied, and I learned, and I saw the results, and I made my choice.
I can repeat the Apostles' Creed by heart, and I believe it. I do believe in the Triune God, who created all things, who saved me through His own sacrifice on the cross, and who lives inside me now, quickening my spirit with his.
I don't believe all religions have the truth. I do believe that men are born knowing that there is a God somewhere, and that all religions are a way of trying to fill that void.
I believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ his son, and the Holy Spirit are the only ones who can fill that void.
But how do I explain this to a ten-year-old whose questions are bigger than his understanding?
The thing is, he really has to work it out for himself. There is a saying, that "God doesn't have any grandchildren." We each have to come to Him on our own. We each have to make that decision. And it can't be rushed. I wish I had just the right words to make it all crystal clear. But I don't. Because everyone believes that they are right, don't they? Just telling him that I believe this is right doesn't carry much water. I hope it carries a little, that his trust in me might help him trust God, but I don't want him choosing based on what I believe. He has to be sure, himself, or the first time he's faced with another way, he will fall all over again.
So all I can do is give him the knowledge he needs, and to live out my faith in front of him, so that he can see it is alive. I suppose I could keep him from learning about any other religions, but I know that will only last so long. He has to go out into the world at some point, and when he does, he will be surrounded by ideas and contradictions. I'm actually grateful that he's having these questions now, while he's still home with me. And I'm doubly grateful that he will ask me, even when I don't have all the answers. I pray that I won't steer him away with my bumbling explanations, but I know that God is in control, and that He can protect his mind from my mistakes.
So, Lord Jesus, grant me the wisdom to speak when I should, and to be silent when that would be better. And please, Lord, stay beside my little boy, and guide him into your kingdom. Amen.