For thirty five years of my life I was, in the proper understanding of the word, nihilist, a man who believed in nothing. Five years ago my faith came to me. I believed in the doctrine of Jesus Christ and my whole life underwent a sudden transformation. Life and death ceased to be evil. Instead of despair, I tasted joy and happiness that death could not take away.
— Leo Tolstoy
Some say my faith is no more than an illusion, and insist there is absolutely no scientific basis for it. Others claim that Jesus never existed, that he is no more than a myth. It’s all a fabrication.
If that is the case, I have a lot of questions…
How is it that this “illusion” has turned my life around? (And the lives of millions.) How in the world does it empower me to live with hope, to experience deep joy, and to walk through life with purpose and a song in my heart? How is it that the deeper I go into this “illusion” the richer my life becomes?
If Christ never existed, why do I find such satisfaction in prayer and praise? In studying His Word? Where does this power come from that helps me to love my enemies, to choose right over wrong, to forgive 70 x 7, to have a heart full of gratitude, to smile at storms, to keep getting up when I stumble, and to face death with confidence?
If this is all an illusion—what a fabulous illusion!
I think I’ll stick with it.
It sure beats anything I had when I tried to live life without Jesus.
–J. O. Schulz
The blazing stars, particles too small to see, the smile of children, the eyes of lovers, melody filling the soul, a flood of joy surprising the heart, mystery at the core of the plainest things – all tell us that we are not alone. They open our eyes to the vision that steadies and sustains us.
–A Jewish Prayerbook
For centuries philosophers have debated “the problem of evil,” but an equally valid but rarely discussed question is “the problem of pleasure.” Where did that originate? Why is sex fun? Why do we find beauty, food, music, and humor enjoyable? How do we account for these delights?
Chesterton felt Christianity gives the only plausible explanation. He saw pleasure as scattered remnants washed ashore from a shipwreck. We are the survivors of the sinking of a golden ship that went down at the beginnings of human history. Here and there, relics of a glorious past are to be found—tokens of a time when pleasure flourished in lavish abundance. They are leftovers from Paradise.
These vestiges of beauty, joy, and sheer goodness on our scarred planet resonate deeply with our hearts. They are reminders that we were meant to live in a better world that once was, in the “enormous bliss” (as John Milton put it) of a garden named Eden.
These delights stir longings to find more. Like a trail of breadcrumbs, they direct us to the Lavisher of these good gifts. They point us to the Author and Finisher of joy, who conferred upon us these pledges of His goodness and love.
-J. O. Schulz
Artist: Christian Riese Lassen