The faith that is not naive

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)

I was listening recently to a YouTube video of a talk by the psychologist and media personality Jordan Peterson on the story of Abraham and the importance of responsibility (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDDCnMgPnlY). He was expounding upon a lesson he observed in the Genesis story, that if you give yourself fully to that which God has called you to, then all things are possible. Peterson followed up on that point to acknowledge that some people think that such an outlook on life is naïve, and consequently dispense with that idea. But then he argued that if you would stop being the sort of person who dispenses with ideas and, in a more mature way, once again give yourself fully to the responsibility to which God has called you, then you truly don’t know what God might do in and through your life. He then made this powerful statement, which resonated with me:

“The power of the nihilistic argument is more powerful than naïve optimism, but it’s not more powerful than the optimism that is not naïve.”

Nihilism, if you’re unfamiliar with the term, is the belief that life is ultimately meaningless, a way of life that rejects all religious and moral principles. Peterson’s quote made me think of the many atheists, either in my life or online, who have rejected belief in God and faith in Jesus as naïve, as wish fulfillment on the part of those who are afraid to face death in all its tragedy or who are too scared to cope with the horrors and suffering of life. There is something superficially self-esteem-boosting in this outlook, as you look down on those unenlightened religious types clutching on to their Sunday School delusions, too afraid to face the objective meaninglessness of life, too frightened to step into the freedom that comes from rejecting the reality of God. But in the end, after the smug self-satisfaction of being better than religious people wears off, the atheist is still left with an empty nihilism: the objective meaninglessness of life and the inescapable tragedy of death.  

But there is an optimism that is not naïve, as Peterson put it. There is a faith that is mature, a belief in God that is based on evidence and experience. There is a way to trust in God that is not afraid to ask the hard questions or to wrestle with the complexities of life. There is a hope that gives courage for today and peace about the future. There is a joy and meaning in life that is not destroyed by suffering or death. There is a love that pursues you, that never leaves you, and that transforms you into a better person. There is a Savior who has overcome the grave. And there is a God who, if you give yourself fully to Him, can do more than you could ever ask or imagine through your life.
 
We can not live forever with the faith we had when we were seven. We inevitably grow up and realize that life is more complex than that. But God is real, and we were made to know Him, follow Him, and enjoy Him forever. Seek Him today, and you will find Him.

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