Those who truly practice the Christian faith strive to be Christlike in our daily living. Jesus’ two commands in the New Testament are to love God, and to love others as much as we love ourselves. Following His guidance helps us connect positively to those we meet on a daily basis – we try to accept others for what they are, help people in need, and treat others as we would have them treat us.
The question is, are His teachings true? More fundamentally, is there a God Who has found us through a speck of space and time, and does He actually give a damn? Or are we merely contriving our own religions and evolving spirituality throughout the ages to make ourselves feel good? This is the true test of faith – what to believe in the seeming absence of irrefutable evidence that we can see, hear, and feel.
If you are a betting man or woman, you might consider Blaise Pascal’s theory on this. Pascal lived and wrote in the seventeenth century and came up with a novel thought. Suppose you had to place a bet on whether Heaven and Hell exist. What happens with each half of this wager? (I use the word “wager” intentionally, because that was the name of his essay: The Wager.)
• Option 1: You bet that Heaven and Hell exist, and you live a good, moral life. If you are right, then your reward is going to Heaven – a good outcome. And if you are wrong, at least you led a good life.
• Option 2: You bet that Heaven and Hell don’t exist, and you pack your life full of sin and selfishness. If you are right, then you aren’t punished by going to Hell, because Hell doesn’t exist; but in a way you are punished, because everyone will avoid you and your evil stream of wreckage. And if you are wrong, and Heaven and Hell exist, well, guess where you are going.
It’s a good argument for doing what is right. As for the larger question of God’s existence… each of us must answer this in the quiet of our own soul. At the end of the day, perhaps we can truly believe that God is the ultimate datapoint of all universes, with infinite and universal power; that He will bring us to an electric, indescribable field of love in an afterlife that we can’t even begin to imagine now… a love so omnipotent that even Satan can’t resist.
Patrick J. Wood