Belief is a powerful force. You have the ability to choose to think something is true without having the evidence to back it up in that moment. Just that description kind of concerns me. What if I decide to believe in something that isn't true?
If I publicly announce that I believe my favorite sports team is going to win, but they end up losing, it's going to be embarrassing.
If I believe that I've met Mr. or Mrs. Right and I end up getting dumped, it's going to hurt really bad.
People like Hitler and Osama bin Laden got people to believe they should take drastic, violent action.
Before we swear off belief all together based on these examples, we have to remember that we have modern medicine because scientifically minded men and women believed they could find cures to polio and smallpox.
Humanity believed it was possible to go to the moon.
I'm writing this article and you're reading it because we believe our conversation is valuable.
So belief is a tool - one that can be used for good or for harm.
When it comes to one of the big question in life 'What do you believe about God', I gotta tell you, I really don't want to screw that one up.
When you add in all that talk of eternity and destination of your soul that most religions deal with, it sure puts a lot on the line.
So how do you decide what to believe about God?
Do you accept what your parents taught you?
Do you hold onto what you hear in houses of worship like church or synagogue or temple or mosque?
This seems like a really important decision. One that you shouldn't outsource to anybody else. I mean, come on, if you're not really convinced, then what good is saying you believe something?
Now, when I said belief exists without having evidence to back it up, I think we can acknowledge that's not completely accurate.
You can't prove that the Sun will rise tomorrow, but because it has happened everyday of your life up to now, it's pretty reasonable for you to believe for the morning.
When it comes to God, there's a great deal of writing and discussion about the topic.
Let me take a minute and explain why I have decided to believe in Jesus as my answer to the whole 'God question'.
C.S. Lewis (writer of the Narnia book series) was a scholar of Greek and Latin literature. Based on this, he had read a lot of mythology - think the Greek and Roman gods.
As an atheist, he decided to read the New Testament in order to disprove the claims it held.
See, Lewis was used to reading eloquent and poetic and dynamic writing by myth makers, but what he found in these Gospels, according to his story in Surprised by Joy, were poorly written, sometimes confusing accounts of a man claiming to be God.
Accounts that one would expect to read by people who were not professional writers, but rather fishermen or tax collectors.
After much consideration, Lewis decided to accept their eye witness accounts.
I'm with Lewis on this. I believe that the Hebrew scriptures are genuine and that they point to a fulfillment which only the first hand accounts of the life and times of a man named Jesus from a place called Nazareth can be considered to have fulfilled.
If a man can predict his own death and resurrection, I'm willing to ride with him.
But even in the midst of my belief in Jesus, I gotta tell you that my beliefs keep developing and changing. If I met 'me' from 5 years ago, we'd disagree on a lot of stuff.
But my overall belief that Jesus is who he claimed to be, and that the things he says about God are true - those beliefs are at the basis for all the other 'figuring out' I'm doing.
I hope that when you hit a point when you're deciding where you anchor your beliefs, you'll explore Jesus.
The idea that God loves us from the start rather than loving us only if we do certain things or act in certain ways is a really powerful idea that has wrecked me...in a good way.
I believe you are important and valuable, and I hope your beliefs are affecting everything you do in a healthy, life-giving way.
If you're not sure whether the things in your head and heart are your own, I'd love to encourage you to start to explore them.
Read books on different topics and which have different perspective than you've ever heard.
Find a place you can converse about important topics - like faith - without feeling the pressure to conform to a particular idea. Best case is a place where you can simply ask questions and learn.
I take the things Jesus says pretty seriously, and one of the things he says is, "Keep on seeking, and you will find." (Matthew 7:7)
So I encourage you that if you want to find truth, go looking for it. Jesus seems to be pretty optimistic that you'll find what you're after.
(A version of this article originally appeared on I Am Second.)