We have a lot of questions:
- Does my life have a purpose? If I didn't exist, would it matter?
- Why have people hurt me? How should I respond to them?
- How much free choice do individuals have? Does it matter if our choices harm others?
- The world became chaotic, just when I thought was getting a grip on things. Is anyone in control?
- Nature seems to be going mad. How do I understand my place in my surroundings?
- Does it matter what path I choose or whom I worship? Does it all sort itself out in the end?
- How do I respond to (or explain things) I don't understand?
- We prefer to invent our gods. We don't want anyone or thing in authority over us. It's more appealing to pick and choose from religious traditions to imagine a perfect scenario of cosmic appeasement ... with our Self at the center.
- The Christian God makes demands on his adherents - to follow him, we must fall in with him and his expectations. He refuses to come alongside us as a magic genie who responds to cosmic manipulation. (i.e. "If I live well, he must bless me and do what I want/need/desire.")
- Christians are a funny bunch. God has chosen "the weak things of the world" to show off the marvels of his universe and his generous love. We don't necessarily want to be identified as "one of those kooks."
- It's politically incorrect and intolerant to believe - never mind to say - "This is God's way. The only way to heaven." (And who even believes in a Christian heaven and hell anymore?)
- We may have been disappointed with Christians or the Church in the past. We might have experienced an abuse of power, hypocritical believers, people who don't live up to our expectations, a church that gets off into weird sectarian doctrines, etc.
I'm encouraging those who are already in the faith to plunge in wholeheartedly. For those exploring their options to consider traveling the road of life, please open wide to the possibility of "GOD WITH US" in Jesus Christ. How?
- Read through the Bible. Not just once, but many times. Grab a Bible handbook and study guides along the way. There are many versions from easy to academic, authored by people who have thought deeply about the faith and can explain culture and customs that are confusing to readers. Or choose an online reader with research resources in it. Click here.
- Listen to podcasts about theology (thinking about God). One version: my husband's been a theology prof for 20 years and has a series on "Basic Christian Thought" here, including thoughts on heaven and hell, God and the angels, the Trinity as holy dance, creation, the place of humans, etc.
- Host or join a group that explores scripture. I like the range of groups here but a local church near you probably has groups as well. If they're kooky, don't give up. After all, you don't give up eating just because you hit a lousy restaurant!
*Do not bow down before their gods or worship them or follow their practices. You must demolish them and break their sacred stones to pieces. Worship the Lord your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span. Exodus 23:24-26 NIV
*We have heard with our ears, O God, our ancestors have told us, what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old. Psalm 44:1
*Though you have not seen Him, you love Jesus Christ, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries. 1 Peter 1:8, 9-10 (NASB)
*And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things
in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. Ephesians 1:9-10 NIV
Moravian Prayer: Lord, it is by faith that we know and that we are called. May we follow your call as strongly as those who walked side by side with you. We hear of your works and are led to do your work as well. Amen.