I was attracted to this book because of the premise that faith is what comes naturally, it is what we want to do, and it is disbelief, rather than faith, which is harsh and demanding. Disbelief demands giving up so much beauty. Thus Lawrenz’s title, I WANT TO BELIEVE. (Get the book HERE).
In the second chapter Lawrenz approaches the issue backwards, focusing not on our desire to believe, but God’s desire for us to believe.
Lawrenz doesn’t use this illustration, but it makes the same point and I know it moved me when I encountered it. There is a scene in Hugo’s Les Miserables, I think it is when Jean Valjean has stolen the silver from the priest. (Someone correct me if I am wrong about this). Jean says that he does not believe in God. The priest says, “It’s alright, Jean, he believes in you.”
This is rather the kind of theme that Lawrenz is going for in chapter two, answering the question, “Why does God want us to believe?”
Lawrenz goes on to list five reasons why God wants us to believe in him. They are all personal and relational. They all spell out selfless love.
I won’t spoil all five, but give you a taste for them by sharing two:
God wants us to believe because it is the only way for us to become what we were created to be: the image and likeness of God.
God wants us to believe so that we are moving toward him when we die, not running away from him.
Lawrenz’s second chapter rightly puts the rationale for faith in the realm of the interpersonal. Faith is not an irrational optimism in the face of darkness. Faith is not civil politeness because “good people believe in God.” Faith is fulfilling who we were made to be and communing with the Creator.
The chapter ending is a pleasant thought and a true one:
God wants us to believe, not so that we will be polite and well-mannered, not because he is looking for slaves to perform arbitrary tasks, and not even so the world will be a better place. God wants us to believe because he wants us.