Although perhaps not as much as it with when I was a child, Christmas presents a spiritual dilemma. The logical side of me can see how easy it could be to reject the story of a little baby boy, born in extremely humble circumstances a little over 2,000 years ago, coming to change the course of an eternal existence for all of humanity. With few surviving accounts and the major accounts that are surviving being religious in nature, the logical mind just wants to cramp.
Yet Christianity, with its claims that the Messiah of the world has come and was rejected by the very people who were looking for Him and are still looking for Him, still exists. Unlike the pagan religions of the dark ages, unlike the gods and goddesses of ancient mythological origin, the religion(s) that have sprung up around the Christmas story are still alive and well. Countless witnesses testify that their lives have been changed by adherence to the teachings of Christianity. Even though Christianity (or any other religion for that matter) has yet to produce perfection in any mortal, there is plenty of evidence that it does create stronger character in those who adhere to its teachings.
So, then, a fairly black and white dilemma exists:
- Either this little baby (about whom so many have written accounts of his miraculous endeavors and who so enraged the political and religious leaders of his time that he died as a common criminal) was born the Son of God and the Savior of the world — or he wasn’t.
- Either his teachings are the truth about how to return to live with God in an eternal afterlife — or they are not.
- Either the scriptures were inspired by God — or they weren’t.
- Either enough of this eternal truth can exist to save humanity in spite of our imperfections, rebellion, and even outright wickedness — or it cannot.
For members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka “Mormons”), the dilemma goes a little further:
- Either God still calls prophets today — or he doesn’t.
- Either the Book of Mormon was translated by the power of God through an uneducated farm boy who received most of his schooling through his communications with heavenly beings — or it wasn’t.
- Either God set up the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to correct the errors that had crept into Christianity over the centuries — or he didn’t.
If we work with just our logical minds, it is easy to find evidence that none of this is true — especially because none of this can truly be proven through the accepted scientific methods that boil down to being able to measure it with our senses.
But, just for the sake of argument, let’s go with the idea that there are things that exist in life that cannot truly be quantified or measured in a scientific manner. I believe that human emotions exist in this realm, as does religious experience. Let’s argue further that there really is a God out there that is interested in the human race.
Wouldn’t he provide a way for humans to have some sort of evidence to know him?
When I was introduced to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it was the first time that I was taught that I do not have to accept Biblical teachings on blind faith. I was also taught that God can allow errors to creep into his church and still be God. In fact, he corrects errors as fits his perfect timing and works perfectly through completely imperfect people.
But, how did I come to know?
It all boiled down to a leap of faith.
To God, faith is perhaps the most powerful principle of force that can be developed during our mortal existence. But, taking a leap of faith is far different that swallowing something in blind faith. Blind faith prohibits questions and thought. Blind faith requires that leaders speak inerrant truth. A leap of faith is far more.
Taking a leap of faith means that you have personally examined all of the evidence that you can find. It means that you have studied that evidence and weighed it in your own personal balance to see if there is any credibility. It also means that you have found enough credibility that you are willing to try it out — and stick with it if the experiments provides further evidence that you are on the right track. (This sticking with it is called “real intent” in the scriptures.)
So, as we approach the most celebrated birth in all of human history, as we sing songs commemorating a tiny helpless baby born in a manger, as we tell our families an ancient story that we have heard countless times — perhaps we should also wrestle a little with this baby.
After all, if the stories are true, then we would do well to put all of our heart, might, mind and strength into fully devoted discipleship. He keeps his promises, and the promised blessings far outweigh any earthly pleasure you leave behind to follow him!