Specifically, this line from Vanessa was very interesting, and challenging:
"We can certainly use our evidence to SUPPORT our faith, but I think one would struggle if their faith was largely based on the historical evidence, since it can be refuted."
She's right, and her words brought me back to an interesting season of life.
Coming to and Wrestling with Faith
I had spent the summer of 1995 investigating the claims of Christianity, coming at it with the skepticism of a scientist and an agnostic Jew. My life was going fine regarding friends, academics, and athletics, and I did not feel a need for Jesus. But, thanks to the Holy Spirit working through one particular guy who poured into me that summer, I came to see that the evidence pointed to Jesus' life, death, and (most importantly) resurrection. I had to accept the facts where they led.
I started reading my Bible, praying, and got involved in a discipleship group. But towards the end of my sophomore year, I read some articles about the Jesus Seminar. Without going into details about what these "scholars" claimed, I'll just say that my faith was shaken to the core. After all, I came to faith primarily because I saw the evidences about the Resurrection of Jesus, and here were "experts" saying it never happened. Now, I was left confused.
This confusion lead to doubt and apathy, and lasted for a few weeks. I stopped seeking God, and backed out of the discipleship group. I stopped praying before meals, which was noticed by at least one friend, but I blew off her caring inquiries. I wasn't quite ready to give up on it all, but I was caught in a quagmire of questions.
But before the end of the year, in May of 1996, I was in a certain situation where I knew I had to fish or cut bait. God smacked me inside my brain with this thought: "Make a choice of what you really want. Follow me, or don't. But quit toeing the line."
In the moment, I believe I could have made either choice. But I know that the Spirit pulled me toward Jesus, and I'm so grateful that He did.
Cleverness Does Not Convict
The reason I say all this is to agree with Vanessa's point, as quoted above. While early on in my walk with God, I thought that I could convince anyone to become a Christian by reasoning with them. I tried this with my Jewish grandparents, as I sent them a handwritten, seven-page letter explaining my faith. That sort of blew up in my face, but we salvaged our relationship (especially with my conservative grandfather) with a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
I learned that cleverness does not convict. Conviction only comes by the Spirit of God, whether before or after coming to faith in Jesus.
"I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God."
(I Corinthians 2:5)
The Gospel Message
God has changed my life, including giving me joy and hope that I never had before. But we must remember the gospel, the meaning of the death of Christ. The gospel message does not focus on a lack of joy and peace; it focuses on sin. After all, whereas you can have joy and peace while you are unsaved, only the gospel can do anything about your sin.
In that moment in May 1996, when I had to choose, I knew that whether I had 100% evidence or not wasn't important. What I needed to do is determine if I would follow what I believed was true. And it's the same for me today. I need to be "all in" for Jesus, or "all out."
Let us heed Jesus' words to the church in Laodicea (Revelation 3:16):
"So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth."