When you have a question, where do you turn?
If you’re like most people, it’s Google. For some questions—Where is the closest REI? or How much does a new Dewalt impact drill cost?—Google has fine answers. But for the questions that matter most—Should I marry her? Is God real? Am I parenting correctly?—something different happens when you take that question to a living, breathing, human being.
We’re the most connected society in the world, and we’re also the most lonely. How is that possible? Because digital friendships are no substitute for real connection. Spatial distancing is physically healthy in a pandemic but social distancing is spiritually, relationally, and emotionally catastrophic. We need trusted friends and mentors to take our deepest questions to. Unfortunately most people don’t have anyone who fits that bill. So we turn to Google instead.
I’m trying to do something about that.
Once or twice a month, I host Q&A days with my followers on Instagram. It’s a simple attempt to use social media to bridge the gap between the digital and physical worlds. Ask anything you want, and I just might answer it. I get silly questions (“What did you have for breakfast?”), painful questions (“My wife just left me. What should I do?”) and everything in between. It’s not that I’m an expert on all subjects, but I have experience and an approach to life that many people find fresh. Most of all, I want to help people to get to a new place in their lives.
Doing these Q&As for almost a year now, I’ve noticed some trends in the questions I get asked. Today I’m going to tackle some of the most common questions I get around Christianity. I hope you find these bite-sized answers helpful.
You can follow me @briantome on Instagram and jump into my next Q&A with your own questions.
Is Jesus God?
Yes. He is the most respected and revered person in human history for a reason. He is the only person to literally, physically, and historically come back from the dead as only God could do. His teachings work and the proof is in millions upon millions of changed lives.
Is baptism necessary?
Being baptized is a critical step in spiritual formation and obedience. But there is no eternal magic to it which acts as a pass to Heaven. Jesus himself did everything we need to get to Heaven and be reconciled back to God.
How does Jesus dying “save” me?
We’ve all sinned. There is a penalty for that sin. I can pay that myself in Hell or I can accept that Jesus paid that penalty for me. As God, he had the power to live a sinless life, so his death covered my sin and not his. How sacrificially generous is that?!
If God is love, why is there a Hell?
God is love but he is also holy and just. We all want justice and that comes from us being made in the image of God. He is a just God and his justice doesn’t fully come in this life. Hell is the way that justice is fully and ultimately served. Also, if someone doesn’t want Jesus in this life, why would they in the next?
Do you actually believe in demons and angels?
Yes I do. Many have entertained angels and haven’t known it (Hebrews 13:2). On the other hand, I’ve seen the effects of the demonic in someone’s life and it isn’t pretty. There is nothing in the Bible that hints at angels and demons being in a dormant state. They are just as present in our world now as they have ever been.
How do I pray?
You talk to God like you would talk to anyone. Don’t just talk about Him. Don’t talk to Him through someone else. You can go directly to God yourself. He just wants to hear your voice and see you leaning into him. Some prayers are better than others but He will not ding you for anything you say to him.
Does God really speak to people? How do I hear Him?
Yes He does, but it is very rarely audible to your eardrum and it never contradicts what is in the Bible. He speaks to different people in different ways. The longer you listen and try to honor what He says, the more accurately you will hear his “voice.”
What about dinosaurs? Does believing in God mean throwing out science?
The Bible is silent on dinosaurs, I believe Genesis 1-3 reads as a reformatting of the elements into being what the Earth currently is. Before water is created on day 2, the Spirit of the Lord is already seen as hovering over the waters (Genesis 1:2) The earth could have been in a state of chaos and Genesis records God’s first act as being one of redemption which is the core message of the Bible. Maybe dinosaurs were before this period of time and maybe they went extinct with the mass rebellion in Heaven that resulted in God casting out Satan and all his troupe (demons), leading to chaos in all the elements. We just don’t know for sure.
How do I start a relationship with God?
God has tried to dummy-proof his identity by coming in the flesh so we can best understand him. He did that through Jesus. Jesus is always the starting point for understanding and connecting with God. Read about Him in places like the Gospel of John in the Bible. If you want Him, pray to receive him and commit the rest of your life to him. Then find people and places that will build that faith. This will be the greatest adventure of your life, with twists and turns you’d never expect.
How do I read the Bible? Where do I start?
Read the first four books of the New Testament — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—and fall in love with the historical person of Jesus. From there, you can start fanning out and tackling other more difficult and helpful books. But a rootedness in the identity and person of Jesus is foundational.
Every other Friday, thousands of people get unfiltered encouragement and challenge from me delivered to their inboxes. If you were helped or challenged by this, subscribe for more at the bottom of the page or at briantome.com. To quote the great John McClane… “Welcome to the party, pal.”