This topic is one that has been on my mind for a while to talk about. This is because I don’t believe one can be a true Christian without touching on its existential aspect. In fact, the very fundamental reason for being in any religion is because of the view of existentialism it subscribes to. To begin with, what is existentialism?
Existentialism is quite complex to define, but essentially it deals with the concept of existence, the question of freewill, self-identity, and purpose. Now let me tell you the Christian view on existentialism:
For a start, we believe that man has freewill, this freewill is gift from God. This freewill means that we have a choice to do whatever we want to do– which involves doing good or evil. We Christians don’t believe good and evil are relative, to us, they are complete absolutes. We believe good and evil are determined by God, but not in the way you think we believe it. I must also add that they are many Christians who do not know this themselves. Many people, including most Christians believe that good and evil are essentially what God says they are. I’m here to break that misconception. Good is what God is. You’ll see it many times in the Bible that God is good. Yes, because that’s His nature. In Genesis 1:27, the Bible says that God created us in His image and likeness. Therefore, God created us to be good– just as He is. And since we have this nature of God in us, it then becomes natural for us to know for ourselves what is wrong and what is right. Thus, according to Christian belief, good is walking in the nature of God and bad is walking out of the nature of God.
One may ask, “If God knew we were going to do what was wrong, why did He give us freewill?”. I won’t deny that it is a very good question. But we must remember that God was not creating robots. He was creating beings like Him. Beings that will be able to love Him. There is no love without freewill, and since God is love (1 John 4:8), He gave us freewill, just as He has freewill. In summary, the Christian belief is this: Good means it is in line with the nature of God, and bad means it is not. Good and evil even goes deeper than that. Good and evil according to the Christian belief are not only actions, but also involve thoughts and intentions. In fact, the thoughts and intentions are the most crucial parts because that is where the actions even spring from. For instance, Jesus made the statement that anyone who looks at someone lustfully has already in their hearts committed fornication with that person (Matthew 5:28). To God, simply hating your brother is like murder (1 John 3:15) and disobedience is like witchcraft (1 Samuel 15:23), and placing anything in higher priority to Him is idolatry (James 4). It is true that God gave us commandments, and Jesus made us understand that these commandments given by God are summarized in love, which incidentally is God’s nature (…see?). Besides there was this king in the Bible who obeyed the law and the commandments to the letter, but God was far from pleased with him because he didn’t do it out of love! Good and evil are thus fundamentally the state of a person’s heart and in judgement, God is going to look at that more than what we did. Therefore if we donated millions of dollars to charity just to feel good about ourselves, we will receive no reward for it. I will not want to touch too much on good and evil. I believe I must dedicate a whole post for that. I hope God will give me the grace to.
Also fundamental to the Christian belief is that anything done and not done for God is something done in vain. It is said in the Bible that everything must be done to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31 & Colossians 3:17). It is necessary that we know this because we don’t believe we came into this earth by mere coincidence! We believe God brought us here for a purpose, He had a plan for us before the beginning of time! In the Bible, it is said that He even wrote volumes of books about us before we came to this earth (Psalm 139:16). The Bible says that in the day of judgement, several books are going to be opened. We believe there are three of such books; The Book of Life (showing whether you have been saved), the book God wrote about you before you came to this earth, and the book containing the life you spent on this earth. As Christians, we believe that our true purpose is found in God (Colossians 3), and outside of that life is meaningless (Ecclesiastes 1). As Christians we believe there are two kinds of life. It is beautifully put in Greek as Zoe and Bios. Zoe means the life of God and bios means the life of a biological creature. The life of God came through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection and the bios comes when we are born. Ecclesiastes 1 was talking about the bios and Colossians 3 was talking about the Zoe. Essentially, we will only find true fulfillment and blessing in doing the will of God (Matthew 6:33). The good thing is that we have the grace of God and we also have the Holy Spirit, who will relate with us personally, teach us everything we need to know and help us in everything we need to do. (This is actually a real thing. Seen it happen in my own life.)
Then we come to self-identity. We as Christians don’t believe in this whole philosophy of “finding yourself”. We believe that everything we need to know about ourselves has already been put in the Word of God. We believe that self-identification is one of the most dangerous things wan can do to himself or herself. In “finding ourselves” or “self-identification”, we are tearing ourselves apart from what God has said about us. According to the Christian belief, “finding yourself” is a form of pride. (oh yeah, digging into the Bible will make you understand that pride is completely different from what we think it is). Pride is essentially putting yourself first before God– in anything that you do. The Bible, instead of finding ourselves rather says we should seek God wholeheartedly. In doing that is when we realize who we truly are. The Bible gives us stern admonishes like Proverbs 3:5 and Proverbs 14:12.
This is the Christian Existentialism. We were brought here on earth to fulfill destiny; God’s will for our lives. Searching the world or ourselves will not give us a hint of who we are, but rather spending time with God will. To my fellow Christians out there, I hope you have been enlightened. To my fellow non-Christians out there, I hope this has been an interesting insight into our belief system.
This post is also to call to attention something I find very saddening. This something is that most Christians I have met do not know this. The Christian worldview actually goes far deeper than this. It would take a whole big book to delve into the intricacies, mysteries and fallacies surrounding Christianity. I hope by the grace of God, I will be able to accomplish that feat.