"We need more than faith in faith"
Is God real? Yes! And how do we know, in confidence, that this is true? Through our own very real and relatable experiences with Him. Everyone on staff at Willow Creek has wrestled with their thoughts and beliefs around the existence and truth of God, in some form or another. And it’s a completely different experience and process for everyone. It’s not easy to just trust that God is real; we’ve all had to delve into the question of God’s existence. And we’ve all come to the realization that He is, in fact, very real and working for our good right now.
In this blog, some of our staff have written about their own experiences in processing their faith and how they came to conclude that God is real.
Is the tree in the forest real? Does the sandwich on my plate exist?
Most of us will confidently answer these questions with little thought. We have all the evidence we need.
Some people respond in a similar way to the question, “Is God real?” They answer “yes” or “no” with neither hesitation nor explanation—they believe, or they don’t.
However, exploring the question takes vulnerability and courage—it’s hard.
Have you ever felt the pressure to believe what everyone else thinks? Or, are you confused when people tell you God can be whomever you want? Do you feel driven by the need to belong to a group?
I encourage you to resist the temptation to quickly resolve the tension between the arguments for and against the existence of God. Integrity and authenticity depend on a thorough investigation.
We need more than faith in faith.
I grew up in a Christian family. However, it took me a long time before I could confidently answer the question, “Is God real?” And, that’s okay.
Many great people with great minds have committed their lives to find an answer to our question. And you have joined that group of enquirers. Some of those ‘great minds’ helped me as I searched for the truth. Here are a few thoughts that fueled my curiosity and bolstered my confidence in case you are interested.
First, I concluded that the natural world, and our exploration through science, point to God as the Designer and Creator. Do all Scientists and all Christians always agree? No. Does science help us and challenge us to understand how God created the universe? I think so.
Second, I became convinced that our sense of morality, and our desire to help those in need, is not simply the result of upbringing or training. After all, doing what is true and good often comes at a personal cost. Why bother? Because our conscience, and sense of right and wrong, are imperfect reflections of the God who created us.
Is there light in the darkness? Discover how the one who created light, continues to give us light, even in the darkest of times.
Also, I’ve found some other thought-provoking questions helpful. Here are a few examples. Why do we desire heaven—something that no living person has experienced—if it doesn’t exist? How can we explain the miracles reported by people of integrity? What explanation is there for the religious experiences of people throughout history and around the globe?
And so, back to our question, “Is God real?” What do you think?
Before we wrap up, let’s pose one last question: “What proof would convince you that God exists?” I’ll hazard a guess that God coming to earth to live among us would satisfy your curiosity. If only…
And yet, that is exactly what God did. Jesus spent around 33 years on this earth—completely God and completely human. God confined to time and space, his life recorded in human history, interacting with us in a way we can understand!
And so, I not only believe that God exists. I believe that He can be known. And then we discover...well, that’s the subject matter for another conversation.
Written by Andy Moss, HR Learning & Development Manager, Willow Creek
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From the old squeaky desk in the third row, I tilted my head as I watched a volunteer CCD (Catholic Church education) teacher draw an apple on a chalkboard. He was attempting to explain the “trinity”—God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three but one. My hand shot up, “But how do you know?” Despite being relatively shy, I was rarely shy to ask questions, and in this instance, I needed to know: Is God real?
I walked out of that fifth-grade class and away from faith, canceling my plans for confirmation. Even as a twelve-year-old, I couldn’t reconcile what I was being told to believe—that God is good, loving, and kind—and what I actually experienced—a life of abandonment, abuse, and pain.
Over the next five years, I became a harsh critic of Christianity. I thought the kids in the “Jesus club” were in denial, looking for emotional escape, or simply ignorant. I routinely made fun of anyone who said they were “religious” or “had a relationship with God.” There was simply no way it was possible.
And then, as a sophomore in high school, I met Brad. What started out as a crush (that never led to anything) turned into a friendship and then an invitation: A group of people were hanging out at his house and doing a photo scavenger hunt. Motivated by a desire to impress, I said yes.
That night I heard about God in a different way: A suffering Jesus who knew pain; who faced abandonment; who chose to love us anyway. I heard Mike’s story of being fatherless and wrestling through years of doubt before experiencing the depth of God’s grace. He spoke softly, yet confidently—never expecting blind allegiance, open to questions of all kinds.
Who is Jesus? Find out here!
His posture paved a path for me to once again ask: Is God real? Over the next year, I bought a Bible and started reading the New Testament (honestly, I started from page 1 at first, but don’t recommend that!). The Jesus I read about was so much more than anyone ever told me, and if—just IF—what was said about Him was true, it had the potential to change everything.
And it did. By the time I was 17, I became exactly who I made fun of; a Jesus follower. And yet my own criticisms and pride couldn’t keep me from declaring that I was, in fact, met by the grace, love, and patience of God. I asked hard questions, read countless books (like Mere Christianity, The Case for Faith, The Names of Jesus), challenged people of faith, and discovered that there was peace, even in the doubt. As the circumstances in my life got harder, I found myself indescribably steady, as if the words and experiences I had with God through the Bible and other Christians shifted the foundation I stood on.
Do I have any more concrete evidence today than I did in fifth grade that God is (or is not) real? No. But what I do have is years of questioning, wrestling, challenging, and change. I have years of grace, patience, and forgiveness. I discovered that freedom was found not in forced responses or blind beliefs, but in bringing exactly who I was and exactly what I thought right to Jesus. A Jesus, who I believe, is fully God, who overcame death so that we could all experience life.
So if you find yourself wondering, “Is God Real?” don’t be afraid of the question, dive into it and open door after door of possibility. I truly believe that Truth will be waiting in the places you least expect.
Written by Liz Schauer, Marketing & Communications Director, Willow Creek
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If you are curious about faith in God or want to know more about what life is like with the Light of the world, Jesus, please connect with our pastors on this form. We would love to help guide you in ways to find out more and explore your own faith. Someone will reach out to you shortly.