An Unavoidable Choice


This blog is addressed to you if you are an agnostic willing to acknowledge that there may be at least something to the claims and person of Jesus Christ. 

Perhaps you are not fully persuaded at this point. But you have at least encountered the possibility of the reality of Christ. Maybe in the Bible. Maybe in the testimony of certain intelligent people. Maybe in the authenticity and hope that you’ve noticed in the lives of some people who follow Him.

You have also come to conclude that, if it really is true that the cosmos is all there is and that we as humans are nothing more than evolved chemicals, a certain void and purposelessness in life is inevitable, understandable, and logically justifiable.

You may have considered reaching out to God at some point. You may have considered giving God a try. But for now you’ve decided to play it safe and just remain agnostically neutral.

If that describes you, I’m bearing what may be some unsettling news. In defaulting to what you have considered to be a neutral position, and in not making a deliberate choice for Christ, you have actually forfeited your neutrality and are making a choice against Him every day.

An old Christian hymn says, “What will you do with Jesus? Neutral you cannot be. Someday your heart will be asking, ‘What will He do with me?’”

In the 1950s Sheldon Vanauken was in a similar position. Vanauken was a writer, a thinker, and a personal friend of C.S. Lewis. He and his young wife Davy (her maiden surname was Davis) were self-proclaimed pagans. But then in the course of just a few years they unexpectedly wholeheartedly converted to Christianity. How did that happen? 

Vanauken recounts their journey from unbelief to agnosticism to Christian faith in a book that has become somewhat of a classic in Christian literature: A SEVERE MERCY, ©1987 HarperOne. The book is worth purchasing and reading in its entirety. But here I will try to relate the crux of how their conversion came about.

During a time of study at Oxford University, Sheldon and Davy became personally acquainted with a number of committed Christians. These people were educated and gracious. Over time they came to know them well and to deeply value their friendship with them. They had also been reading C.S. Lewis and the account of his conversion to Christ from atheism. Then also there was a series of plays on the life of Christ by Dorothy Sayers that deeply impressed them. At some point they both began to realize that their previous conclusions about Christianity being baseless and ridiculous were unfounded. 

Then they read the Bible itself. For the first time they came to personally be aware that Jesus was more that just an isolated irrelevant historical figure. 

Davy was the first to actually pray and come to Christ. Sheldon also began to believe that Jesus may be real as he encountered Him as described in Scripture. But, for a while he held out, wanting more hard proof before he would actually make a decision.

Then suddenly one day he came to the “chilling realization” that he could not ever realistically go back, turning away from Christ. He said it this way:

“The position was not, as I had been comfortably thinking all these months, merely a question of whether I was to accept the Messiah or not. It was a question of whether I was to accept Him—or reject. My God! There was a gap behind me, too. Perhaps the leap to acceptance was a horrifying gamble—but what of the leap to rejection? There might be no certainty that Christ was God—but, by God, there was no certainty that He was not. If I were to accept, I might and probably would face the thought through the years: ‘Perhaps, after all, it’s a lie; I’ve been had!’ But if I were to reject, I would certainly face the haunting, terrible thought: ‘Perhaps it’s true—and I have rejected my God!’”

At that point he realized that there was only one thing to do — and he did it — flinging himself “over the gap towards Jesus.” He then wrote to C.S. Lewis, who by that time he had met personally, visited numerous times, and become friends. He told Lewis that after he had chosen to believe in God his life was “made full instead of empty, meaningful instead of meaningless.” But he also described in important detail what it meant for him to believe even without complete proof. 

He wrote that even “choosing to believe is believing.” He said that he prayed: “Lord, I believe—help Thou mine unbelief.” He confessed his doubts and asked for God’s help to overcome them. Then he told his wife: “I have chosen — the Christ! I choose to believe.” Choosing to believe, for him, in the end, came down to nothing more or less than a conscious deliberate act of the will.

Vanauken says that Davy “looked at me with joy. Then she came over to me and knelt. I knelt, too, and committed my ways to my God. When we rose, we held each other a long moment. It is perhaps significant that we prayed first.”

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