Really when it comes down to it, changed lives are perhaps the least disputable evidence that God exists. At least in our culture today, people are a lot less likely to a argue about your own personal experience than they are about specific facts.
Some might think you’re deluded as to why something happened the way it did in your life. But they are probably going to accept that it did happen that way because they know you personally experienced that.
So lets look at some of the lives that were changed because of an encounter with the living God.
We can start with Jesus’ inner circle and his disciples. On the night Jesus was arrested, all of his disciples ran away completely frightened that they might get arrested too. The Bible says that they deserted Jesus and ran away.
Even Peter, who had a reputation as one of the boldest of the disciples ran away initially. The Bible says that he then followed them from a distance as they took Jesus to be tried. Peter stayed outside during the trial and was so timid that he was afraid of a little girl. When she said Peter was a follower of Jesus he denied it to her face.
Yet something happened that changed Peter. Just a few weeks later he stood up in the middle of the crowded city and boldly gave such a powerful speech that 3,000 people became followers of Jesus on the spot.
Not long after that Peter and John were arrested for healing a man who hadn’t been able to walk for over 40 years and were brought before the religious council in Jerusalem. The were ordered by the council not to speak or teach about Jesus again. Here’s what they said:
But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.” — Acts 4:19-20
Their change from cowardice to boldness is evidence that God exists.
The Apostle Paul
Saul was a highly educated religious Jew who didn’t like the fact that his fellow religionists were leaving the fold, so to speak, to head off and follow this Jesus fellow. In fact he was so bent out of shape about it that he got permission from the ruling council to arrest, torture and even kill Jews who went to follow Jesus.
After he’d done his best to rid Jerusalem of Jesus followers he found out that some of them were in Damascus. So he got special permission to go up there and continue his rampage.
But something dramatic happened to him on the road to that city. The change was so profound, in fact, that he changed his name from Saul to Paul.
Instead of persecuting the followers of Jesus he had become one. But Paul wasn’t just any follower of Jesus, he became a leader in the movement. So much so that he ended up writing nearly half of the New Testament scriptures.
That someone would change from the biggest persecutor of Jesus followers to the most powerful champion of them is evidence that God exists.
Chuck Colson was a hard ruthless man. After leaving the Marine Corps as a Captain, he worked his way up to become Special Council to President Nixon. From the Wikipedia page about him:
Slate magazine writer David Plotz described Colson as “Richard Nixon’s hard man, the ‘evil genius’ of an evil administration.” Colson has written that he was “valuable to the President … because I was willing … to be ruthless in getting things done”. Richard Nixon’s White House Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman described Colson as the president’s “hit man.”
Colson authored the 1971 memo listing Nixon’s major political opponents, later known as Nixon’s Enemies List. A quip that “Colson would walk over his own grandmother if necessary” mutated into claims in news stories that Colson had boasted that he would run over his own grandmother to re-elect Nixon. In a February 13, 1973, conversation, Colson told Nixon that he had always had “a little prejudice.”
Colson was likely the mastermind of a riot in New York City where more than 70 people were injured. He proposed to firebomb a political think tank so that damaging documents could be stolen while firefighters were putting out the resulting fire. He was also implicated and served 7 months in prison for his role in the Watergate scandal.
Chuck Colson was not a very nice guy.
As he was headed to prison, Colson was given a book by a friend which had a profound impact on his life. The book was Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. Reading that book led to his conversion to Christianity. He spent much of the rest of his life ministering to people in prison. It was said of him after he died in 2012, “He’s going to be remembered as a person who had a complete turnaround in his life.”
A ruthless man who was focused on winning at all costs changing to become someone who worked on behalf of the marginalized and the outcast is evidence that God exists.
My Own Life
I’ve shared on this site before how I personally struggled with walking away from alcohol. I did everything I could think of to quit drinking, including checking myself into a month long in-patient rehab program.
But even though I’d been able to do most everything else I ever decided to up to that point, I was completely unable to quit drinking in my own strength. As a result my life was a pretty big mess.
All it took is a genuine encounter with the living God of creation and I was completely set free of that addiction. Not only do I have the strength to say no to alcohol when it is put in front of me now, but even the desire to have any is completely gone.
Even when I’ve momentarily found myself feeling things that characterized my drinking days – frustration, boredom, loneliness, etc. – I still have no desire to turn to alcohol as a relief. And that’s been 18 years now and counting.
If that were all I had experienced it would be enough for me to know God exists. But I’ve also experienced the peace of God when things seemed to be falling apart around me. I’ve experienced healing in my own body in an instant as a result of prayer. I’ve personally changed from someone who always had to argue with folks to be “right” to someone who isn’t at all bothered by people who think he’s wrong. I see God operating in my life on a daily basis in all sorts of ways, big and small.
It’s too late to try to convince me that God doesn’t exist. I’ve experienced too much with Him directly in my own life. That ship has sailed.
My own changed life from an argumentative hypercritical drunk to a sober caring person who is willing to be perceived as wrong is evidence that God exists.
Not Isolated Cases
The thing is this. When we talk about changed lives of people who have had God encounters the examples we can point to are nearly endless. And it makes sense too.
Jesus told us we would be “witnesses” for him throughout the world. In order to be a witness you have to actually witness something. So God gives every person who follows him a story to tell of how God impacted their lives by changing it for the better so that they have something to tell others.
Each and every one of those changed lives is further evidence that God exists.
This is the fourth in my series of articles about The Many Reasons I Believe God Exists.