Saturday, December 11, 2010

Knowing What You Believe

When I was in college, everything I knew about God or Christianity was based on what someone else had told me.  I grew up as a preacher’s kid and was in church every Sunday.  I had learned a lot from my parents, in Sunday School, and of course from being required to actually sit and listen to the sermons.  I knew what I was supposed to believe.  I just didn’t know why.  At the time I didn’t care!  It didn’t seem important.  One day in the dorm, my roommate (who had a different Christian background than mine) began to attack my beliefs and the beliefs of the denomination I grew up in.  Many of them were core teachings of Jesus Himself, including the phrases “born again” and “being saved”, which he said were invalid doctrine.  He had developed an entire laundry list of things to complain about.  I listened and was shocked that he would be saying these things.  I wanted to straighten him out!  But I didn’t know enough about why I believed what I believed to be able to contradict him.  So I just sat there and listened.  And when it was over, having lost the battle by forfeit, I was left to wonder if I actually had gotten it wrong all these years.  What exactly was the truth?  How would I know?

This was a huge, life changing moment for me.  I wasn’t prepared, and I began to question everything because I had no proof of anything.  It wasn't about his questions anymore.  It was about finding truth and knowing it when I see it.  Is there a God?  If there is a God, is there really only one path to find him?  What do I really believe?  At that point I was completely adrift and didn’t know which way was up.  Where could I go for real answers?  I began to question God’s motives, His love for us, and I started to seriously contemplate all of the questions we like to ask about God.  I looked down dark alleys for truth and didn’t find it anywhere.  Finally, circumstances in my life brought me back around to examining the Bible.  This time I really examined it, and started with could I even trust the Bible at all.  I didn’t want to just believe what I was told.  I wanted to know for myself.  Is what I believe what’s actually true?

This experience for me eventually began a passion for reading and studying the Bible.  I wanted to know who God was, and what He wanted from me.  I wanted to know the truth so I could stand firm when attacks came. 

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  (1 Peter 3:15)  NIV

Eventually, someone will come into your life who challenges your faith.  Someone will look you in the eye, present arguments, and put you on the defensive.  What will your response be?  Will you question God’s very existence like I did?  Or will you be able to stand and be a light in a dark world, having given yourself at least one leg to stand on?  Maybe it would be good to decide ahead of time, before they come knocking on your door.  I wish I had.

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