If I were to make a list of reasons I am a Christian this one would have to be on the list also: it makes sense of life.
I met a guy in an airport once who was explaining to me his perspective on life. He was saying that it didn’t matter what anyone believes about the universe because when we die we will find that all roads lead to the same place. It is like we are all climbing a mountain though it may look like we are all on different paths in life, one day we will meet at the peak and realize that every path was leading here all along. He seemed to be saying that no matter what our preconceptions of the universe is, the reality is such that it conforms to them all. I understand – I think – why that model of things makes sense, but I think the reality of the universe is different. The guy in the airport was saying that reality is elastic – it stretches so that no one’s conception of reality is actually wrong. I want to say that the universe doesn’t stretch – it is what it is. The reality of things is objective – it is one way and only one way. Think of it like a lock that only fits one key.
If that is true, then every worldview is a key that either fits the lock of the universe or it does not. In fact, every day each one of us is making our lives in to a key of a certain shape, as though we were betting without knowing it, that this is the shape of key that fits the lock. I am a Christian because I think that the gospel-shaped worldview is the key that fits the lock.
I believe this because of two things that have to be true of whatever the real key is:
1. The life lived according to the worldview that fits will not necessarily be perfect, but will be spared the friction that comes from living as though the universe is something it is not.
2. It makes sense of every inch of life.
I think Christianity satisfies both of these.
1. If the gospel is the key that fits the lock then the things that the gospel calls sin should really lead to destruction and pain, and things that the gospel calls righteousness should really lead to human flourishing. Morality is more than simply a list of do’s and don’ts. Righteousness is a smooth click of the key in the lock. Sin is the painful grinding of trying to live a life against the grain.
Take the example of marriage. If the gospel is true then the list of things that it takes to have a good marriage should match the list of things people slowly become when they believe the gospel more and more. Or, to put it another way, as the gospel grows in a person and they become more patient, kind, joyful, honest, caring and compassionate, having a selfless, sacrificial love – more Christlike, they are growing the exact qualities that it will take to have a healthy marriage. If human relationships and morality are both part of the fabric of life then the worldview that fits the way life really is should create human relationships that flourish.
2. The Christian worldview makes sense of life. The Christian story is that everything was created good, it fell and was broken, and it is being made good again. This allows for us to take every new thing and know something about where it came from and where it is going. Take sex for example. Sex is something that was created good – it has a purpose and a place and that purpose is a glorious one. That is not the state we find sex in today. The gospel says that there is something wrong with our appetite for sex, as C. S. Lewis writes, “You can get a large audience together for a strip-tease act – that is, to watch a girl undress on the stage. Now suppose you come to a country where you could fill a theater by simply bringing a covered plate on to the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let the every one see, just before the lights went out, that it contained a mutton chop of a bit of bacon, would you not think that in that country something had gone wrong with the appetite for food?” The gospel does not leave the issue there, however. It tells the story of sex redeemed, sex made right again, free of its abuses and the pain that comes of them.
That is just one example, but the Christians story makes sense of every area of life. The gospel-shaped worldview is a framework which contains every aspect of the human experience – it is comprehensive. There is a place in the framework for suffering, for happiness, for laughter and friendship, for love and heartbreak, for work, for politics, for every inch of life. It weaves them all together in a whole and makes a tapestry of them. Again, as C. S. Lewis said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” There is a place for everything in the story; it is the light by which all of life is made visible and understandable.