A dear friend wrote an email to me saying they are not sure if they can believe in God.
Here is how I responded (with just a few changes for this post).
For me, my journey of believing in God and trusting him wobbled up and down for years - even though I went to church with my family all my life and had been confirmed as a member of the church when a teenager.
Why is that? With God, like human friendships and relationships, if we don't know someone, we cannot trust him or her. (And sometimes you can't trust someone you do know - sadly.) When I was at university a pivotal change occurred when I started to slowly and carefully read Mark's gospel from the Bible and went along to a Bible teaching church to hear it explained. I started to understand Jesus. I started to get to know him – his character, his authority, his love. And that made all the difference.
As we get to know someone, we start to understand if they are worthy of our trust. Or not. True trust will not come without knowledge. It cannot. Not when it comes to personal relationships, for that is what Jesus is inviting us into - a personal relationship with God through him.
But God hasn't left us in the dark to guess at his character, to know if he is worthy of our trust. He has spoken to us in the Bible, revealing himself and his character. And he has spoken finally and completely in Jesus - in Jesus' coming, life, deeds, death, resurrection and his words. The Bible puts it like this 'the Scriptures are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ.' The Bible (the Scriptures) give us the understanding, the wisdom, for salvation by showing us who Jesus is so we can get to know him. As we get to know him, we can see if he is worthy of our trust.
Is your trust in Jesus or Christianity wavering and uncertain? Or non-existent? Is this, perhaps, because you don’t actually know much about Jesus? Not personally. Perhaps you have the scraps of second hand knowledge from a Christian friend. Or, bits and pieces of half remembered scripture lessons. This is not enough. It’s like knowing about a friend of a friend of a friend. You don’t really know him or her.
The solution to this wavering trust is to lean in to the Scriptures. Get to know Jesus. Then you’ll see if he is worthy of your trust. Or to put it another way, you can’t trust him if you don’t know him. Get intimate with Jesus.
So, where would I start? Don't worry about your belief in God or not. I know that sounds strange. But start with Jesus. He claimed to make God known. He claimed to be God. I would recommend reading Luke's gospel from the Bible in a good modern English translation like the NIV or ESV. Just start reading. As you read ask yourself these two questions every now and then: what is it that I've learned about Jesus? How should I respond to Jesus?
As you keep reading, you’ll get to know him. You’ll find out if Jesus is worthy of your trust. And this will then flow into your answer for the second question, ‘how should I respond to Jesus?’ now that I know him.
You cannot trust Jesus if you do not know him. You can only trust him (or not) if you know him.