Mark Bezanson is recently married and continues to live a life seeking to encourage others to grow in Christ. He is the leader of the Renewal Fellowship's Youth Pastors' Network. This article is intended to spur your prayers for youth workers and youth in our churches so they will be blessed and be a blessing to the youth in our communities.
In our Youth Alpha course, several of our sharp committed young people are asking some tough questions about how to share their faith. We have worked through the basic material of who Jesus is, and why Jesus had to die. However the group of five Junior and Senior students are facing different questions.
"My friends are asking — so you believe this stuff — how can you prove it? The stories about a talking snake in the garden sound more like a bedtime story, even a fable. Other miracles sound like mythology, only just in the Bible."
Later the comments became even more challenging. "Yeah — most of my friends believe that there is some kind of God out there that helped everything get started. The question is how do you choose which one of the world religions is right?"
So, with my ears still echoing with these tough questions, I began to try to outline four possible ways of "proving" the Christian faith.
I rambled on for a little while — probably too long – trying to explain how someone approaches "proving" these kinds of basic faith questions.
"The first kind of 'proof', the way of scientific experiments, is not an option for Christianity or really for any other faith. For any historical event, we cannot return in time and repeat the scientific experiment several times on any past event. Even with an event like the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the film evidence and many witnesses do not agree. No one suggests that JFK did not die, but the how and the why of that event are still hotly debated.
"The second kind of proof is important for Christians. The issue is one of first principles. What are the beginning principles for your search for truth? If a person starts with the assumptions that God exists, and that He has chosen to reveal Himself to us through the Scriptures and through Jesus, then believing in miracles and handling difficult texts is not that hard.
"If a person does not share our first principles, then the question to ask is what are their first principles? For example, if your friend believes the first part of Genesis is an allegory, then the question becomes 'What do you think is the reason for all the brokenness (sin) in the world?'
"Our goal is to find out what our friend's 'first principles' are regarding the human condition. Are human beings in trouble as a society, with a serious spiritual problem that needs to be addressed by God? Or are human beings all right? What are the first principles that my friend is moving from, and how did she or he arrive at these principles?"
"Yes, but most of my friends believe that some kind of God exists," a student suggested. "They just want to know what makes choosing Jesus the right answer."
"Well, I think it comes down to the first principles of what you believe about Jesus and the resurrection," I tried to explain.
"Yes, well, Buddhism and Hinduism believe in reincarnation, and some form of Karma."
"Right, but here is where Christianity is different. In reincarnation, I come back as another person or life form each time, until I get it right. With the Christian view of resurrection, how many persons or life forms are involved?" I asked.
"Just one" a student responded. "As a Christian, I live, I die, and then I am raised to new life."
"Yes, this is key!" I explained. "Christianity is committed to the radical restoration of creation. God does not play games with us. He wants to restore this broken world, to recreate it into a beautiful place once again. He wants to recreate us in physical resurrection bodies, not as a different person, but as a resurrected person without any further battles with sin."
"I agree that the resurrection is key to everything," one of the other youth leaders commented. "This week, some close Christian friends had to have a funeral for their three-year-old who died from medical complications. Instead of a sombre service, they put together a kids party in the basement, with balloons and games and all kinds of fun food, where the children could come and play, and celebrate the life of this young child. What a great testimony that in suffering, there can still be joy."
We all sat silent as we soaked in this incredible event of resurrection faith.
"Yes, now can we get on to the next one, the evidences for the Christian faith?" one of the students asked.
"Sure, but I think we are out of time. We will have to tackle that one next week."