A few years ago I was in contact with a freshman college student in the LA area via Gold Coast Bulletin Board Service. He was struggling to find something in his life to fill the void. This is the letter I sent to him. Perhaps it fits your situation at the moment?
I'd like to share with you my thinking on some Christian fundamentals, the logic of which I think you'll agree is not just blind faith, but some fairly sound thinking. For what it's worth, here it is and I hope it helps.
First of all at the top of the decision tree, is the question: Do I believe in a supreme being that created the universe? It seems rather hard to support the notion that we all came into being by random occurrence. So if creation isn't a random occurrence then it's created. If it's created then there's a creator. Witness anything that man does with new technology ideas and you see the traces of order and organization that put us here. Witness the grand-ness and beauty of nature and you can understand that there was creative genius behind it. Why should we be thoughtful, well organized individuals were it not for the fact that our creator, making us in His own image, put us here, and we can see in ourselves and in nature the wonders of His works! (I am fearfully and wonderfully made... Psalm 139)
Where there is a created thing there is a creator. If there is then a creator, do I simply assent to Him, or is there more? .... With the existence of a creator, it is He then that sets the rules. That is to say that if one acknowledges the existence of a creator then we really don't own ourselves, we belong to our creator. That means that there are some rules or absolutes by which the creator would wish us to live. Adam wrestled with living by absolutes in Genesis in the situation describing the Garden of Eden. Life was great before the Apple Incident.
Another basic premise is that the Bible is an authentic document, and that it is the inspired word of God. Authenticity is established by more than 25,000 manuscripts, more than any other document in history, so let's attest to the fact that it's authentic. Insofar as it is the inspired word of God... sure you can debate the issue, but if you carefully examine the cross-references in the document there are various prophesies made, which if you honestly examine them, they are hard to refute. Jesus Himself affirmed what was written in the Old Testament while on earth, and quoted from it. Men wrote it, men make mistakes... it's an old argument. But did they make mistakes on the fundamentals that really count? Are we really going to nit-pick at trivial details to refute the Bible? It's a popular idea to find one error or what appears to be an inconsistency and therefore throw out the whole book!
All through the Bible are written the characteristics of what God is like. If you take all the characteristics and sum them up, I guess you'd say that God is perfect. That's really what the word Holiness means. And if you can ever imagine a creator that is pure spirit, and perfectly Holy,...if you can... then you must know that His love and righteousness are perfect also. In this frame of mind, He looks at His first offsprings, and you begin to imagine what He feels when they go astray.... His created beings, in which He places free will. Ah, that's a key word, for without free will He has created nothing but robots... even man can create robots which do our will, but the Creator who made us can certainly outdo us! So there it is... man and woman with their free will, tempted in the garden because in eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they chose (with free will) to know the evil as well as the good... what a test! But when you have children (I have 3) you appreciate what it means to be concerned about the welfare of your offsprings. That is probably the best analogy man can make about what God must feel about His offsprings. When you raise your children, you hope to raise them to be good people, morally straight, thoughtful, all the great characteristics, but... independent in the sense that they can live in this world with a confidence that is their own... you might call it... a free will.
Since the first offsprings, in their freedom of choice made a bad one... what then? In the genetic sense, their sinning tendency was passed down through all the generations. In that sense, we inherit the tendency... God isn't really punishing us for "goofing up"....and if you look at the world around us, there is the tendency to think of ourselves as being morally "relatively" as good as, or better than, the next guy... we are proving the case for mankind being in a sinful state. Remember how the Creator set the absolute rules which require keeping the Law (Mosaic Law - Ten Commandments). This simply means that if you literally keep the Law you're OK in God's sight. But remember, in the absolutes of God's Law you cannot break even one or you're a sinner. What individual with this sin tendency can do that?? I know I can't. But in the early days (BC) God had provided a way to atone for one's sin. Leviticus is full of procedures for the killing of animals, sprinkling the blood on the altar... a spotless, sinless, animal who is paying for our sin. The poor animal didn't do anything to deserve that fate... but there it is, the innocent paying for the crime of the guilty. Trouble was that the people of the day went through life... atoning, atoning... on and on... what a drudge!!
So here we are with a perfect God, and sinful man... what a state of affairs. And, how can we as sinful people stand in God's presence of perfect Holiness and communicate with Him? A loving father has a tough time trying to communicate with his wayward offsprings. This is a Father with a huge family, only a few who even speak to Him, never mind following His ground-rules. The priesthood of Levites could hardly keep up with the sin/sacrifice cycles of the daily life. The sacrificing and atoning for one's sin was just an ever constant reminder that they had to work like crazy to keep from committing any one of the 600 rules and regulations that were part of the Jew's life then.
But Plan B swings into effect and what a plan! A genetically sinless person in the name of Jesus Christ (Name-Title, Jesus-Messiah) is born of a young virgin so that the sinfulness of Adam is not passed to Him. He was foretold 800 years earlier by Isaiah the prophet (Isaiah 7:10-15). Oh, yes.... it is important that you accept the fact of the virgin birth, else how can the wholly sinless Person be born. Isaiah also foretold Jesus death & resurrection (Isaiah 53:3-6). The slaughter of this spotless lamb is the innocent dying for the guilty. Does this make any sense? God can now see us as righteous in His sight because His son paid the price with His blood.
You see if I accept this sacrifice on the cross for me.... me, personally.... me as an individual.... me, that He knew since the beginning of time whenever that was!... then I have atonement for my sin. Notice I say sin (plural), not sins (a small collection of them).
It is a permanent atonement. But this atonement although available to me, is not mine unless I ask for it.
Isn't it incredible that I can be permanently saved from my sin, and all I have to do is ask!!! I don't get it by working for it. I don't get it by being relatively better than my neighbor. I get it because God wants me to accept His gift of permanent forgiveness through the work of His Son on the cross, and by the way, eternal life happens to be a bonus thrown in for good measure. The body I live in now is just something I'm wearing while I'm living here! But that's a short spec of time in all of eternity!
If you can comprehend why God would do this for us, you begin to understand the scope and magnitude of the love God has for us.
You know, when you get right down to the bottom line, it's not a question of debating whose God is the true God, or whose denomination is the most right!! There's only one God and it's everyone's God. He is what He is whether, we believe in Him or not, or what we think Him to be. It's not even a question of narrow views or broad views.... as in the law of gravity... there is only the fact of God. And personally, I have chosen to think about God in the way the Bible has described Him.
What matters is not that we believe, for what we believe does not change what is! What matters is what we do with our free will in choosing our eventual condition. We live in an eternity under God's absolutes. It's just a question of where we live...during that eternity, and whether we choose to live in closeness with God or to live in separation from God. You see, you really cannot use arguments of justice or fairness or anything else like that because it really doesn't have relevance in the outcome of the situation. We simply act on whether we ask to be forgiven of our sin, ask Jesus to come into our heart and transform us into newness of life. Or.... we can choose the alternative. It's a free will choice. One can choose to live apart from God. I wouldn't want it, but one can choose that.
Once having made a choice, praying for forgiveness, asking Jesus into your life, and asking the Father for the Holy Spirit to empower your life as a Christian a transformation will take place. When you make a positive choice, by praying to the Father, that's a point at which the Holy Spirit will take up residence within you. I mean this literally... It's a neat experience, when you have that full realization that you have the power of the Holy Spirit within you reproducing that characterization of Jesus Himself. You'll find that any fears or reservations you may have had will all melt away.
Yes, your life will change, but it will change in a way that you will want it that way, if you know what I mean. Some say, oh I would not accept Christ in my life because frankly, I don't want to change the way I live. But... after you have been born-again (John 3:3) you will think differently about the way you want your life to be. In a way it's like falling in love all over again... And another thing that happens to you is that you find out you made the right choice. You will KNOW that you know.
Steve... we will all be praying for you as you make your choice...
Do you have any questions or comments?
Send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to chat!