Jesus is existentially satisfying because he accurately describes the human condition and provides the solution. Every other system of belief is built on performance, maintenance, reward/punishment, dichotomous banner-waving division, moralism, superiority, self-improvement, and self-isolated relativism. Jesus destroys all these categories and provides a way above all ways that I have absolutely NOT found in any other system of thinking.
He speaks to my desperate need for self-justification. All day long, I’m justifying myself to prove I’m worthy. I am making myself better than others and comparing my weakness to someone who is weaker than me. I am in a moral race that causes me to laugh at a celebrity’s downfall or to help the poor to look righteous. Jesus destroyed this in the cross by calling us all equally guilty and all equally loved. It was never in us to justify ourselves, but only Jesus can do this.
He speaks to my need for approval, validation, and significance. Because Jesus loved me enough to die for me: he is the foundation for all the love I need. He knows me and still loves me, and this is the relational intimacy I’ve always been looking for.
He speaks to my need to serve myself and make life about me. I’m set free because my life is not about me. Life is about the story of God and we’re all bit players. Imagine this sort of freedom: when you can quit living selfishly for yourself. You’re no longer enslaved under the tyrannical dictatorship of self. Imagine this sort of Gospel-shaped person who loved you but didn’t need you, because they’re not using you as a vehicle to serve themselves. They’re not killing you as an obstacle who is in the way of their desires. They’re instead seeking to love you simply because they love you and not because of what you can or won’t do for them, and this is because they are loved the same way.
Is there a God, an afterlife, a direction to the universe? I don’t know.
I suddenly found myself for the first time in my life with no actual metaphysical beliefs.
This kind of doubt is not some postmodern, hipster trendy sort of “doubt.” It is a very real and painful loss of the ground beneath your feet. This can be a very depressing and horrifying experience for people. Some of you know what I’m talking about, and it’s you that I’m writing this blog to.
Through this experience (“dark night of the soul”, or whatever you would like to call it), I’ve had a few things that have really helped me “spiritually”. (Community, ritual, apophatic theology, meditation…etc) But I came across something this week that really helped me cerebrally.
The philosophy and science of the day have left us with very little certainty about the universe we inhabit. (“I think therefore I am” really doesn’t get you very far.) We are subjective creatures that have very limited and flawed receptors. There is really no way to objectively “know” anything. It all comes through our subjective lenses. In reality, it all comes down to faith. And faith is not something one can force.
Nearly everything can be philosophically deconstructed. So those of us who lack the faith to believe even in our subjective senses or reasoning can have a very hard time finding things to be “true.” This can lead to paralyzing doubt. The kind that keeps one from living the kind of life that he would like to live.