Easily the most disappointing reaction to the Gospel is an apologetic: “I’m sorry, but I just don’t have your faith.” Faith is a little like taste on this view. Some people like opera, some don’t. Some prefer spicy meals, others prefer sweet. You can’t help who you are and you can’t help what you like. So if some people have faith, and others don’t, it’s no-one’s fault. God won’t mind.
After all, faith, like love, is blind. If we can’t help who we fall in love with, then we can’t help it when we fall out of love. And if we can’t help falling out of love, then we can’t help it if we lose – or never gain – faith. And perhaps it is a sign of strength not to need faith; after all, isn’t religion just a crutch to help us through life?
The difficulty here is that the respondent has not really understood the Gospel and completely misunderstands what the Gospel means by faith. Faith is trusting another – in this case God. We can, of course, be completely irrational in who we trust and blindly follow those who do not deserve it (see our current election cycle!) But trust ought to be rational; we should have reasons for following another.
As we have mentioned repeatedly on this site, the Gospel reasons with unbelief; it does not just preach at it. There is excellent public evidence for the truth of the Gospel. And beyond this, there are personal, existential, practical and experiential reasons for trusting Christ.
We do not need the Gospel to reveal that, morally, we are made of crooked timber; we further know that we are doomed to physical annihilation and ultimate insignificance unless we can put our trust in something stronger than ourselves. Indeed, we need someone stronger than time and space, someone greater than the physical universe, to satisfy our hunger for significance. We need someone who can put sin to death if we are to find the forgiveness we need.
So, everyone should be able to see their need for the Gospel and realise there is more than enough evidence to accept it. If they do not to accept the Gospel, then that is their choice. It is not a matter of inability but personal responsibility.
When I hear the Gospel dismissed with a relatively dispassionate shrug I’m tempted to believe the listener has not been paying attention. After all, the Gospel calls us wretches who deserve to be eternally banished from God’s presence. It teaches that we are so lost that only the death of God the Son can redeem us. If you do not agree, you should be outraged – or at least offended.
The Gospel also teaches that Jesus Christ owns us. We belong to him by right; he demands our unconditional, personal surrender. Furthermore, we have been loved from eternity past. So much so – and as a matter of historical fact -God the Son humiliated himself and endured torture, death and divine wrath to reach us.
God does not demand perfect faith; the Prodigal Son expected to be treated like a slave on his return; Jesus accepted the cry “Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief.” Humility, repentance, a recognition that only Jesus can offer what you need. If you feel you do not have enough strength to change, ask and you will receive.
Jesus forces a live, momentous decision upon us. Once He has confronted you, there can be no more excuses. One way or another, how you respond will shape your morality, your identity and your character. You can follow him or take another path; but whatever path you take, you’ll answer for it.