One of the Beauties of Christianity
(I just wrote this at
http://de-conversion.com/2007/11/03/why-me-lord-why-did-i-de-convert/#comment-9699, and thought I would share it here)
It is obvious to me, and probably to everybody else here, that you are the more inteligent of the two of us.
However, that does not change the fact that you are wrong about Jesus Christ, who was, is, and always will be the King of this universe.
You won’t like this answer, but I hope that I might be able to explain it in a way that is satisfactory.
I think that the problems you point to are problems with American Christianity today.
The main problem, one of the results of which you point to with your example of a struggling, unhappy, crying out believer, is the tendency of American Christians to isolate.
I think this is caused by the mishandling of striving for the unreachable perfection.
We live in a broken world. We live in a world where everybody sins. We would not agree on an operational definition of sin- I assume that some things I would call sins, you would say there is nothing wrong with- but whatever standards of good and bad you set for yourself, you fall short of. I say Romans 7 is the only valid explanation of this.
Anyways, sin does not magically disappear because you have saving faith in Jesus Christ. No human being is perfect or ever will be perfect as long as they live, until Jesus returns.
This is in constant conflict with the necessity to strive to be Christ-like, that is perfect.
So, a big problem that I see in American Christianity is that churches tend to have an atmosphere where it feels like a person should be perfect, should not have doubts, and should not question their faith.
And we live in a world where people are not perfect, have doubts, and question their faith.
So, due to that contrast, you get believers that are struggling, unhappy, and crying out to God, alone and in isolation.
Once a person is in that position- a position that I have been in, and from your awareness of it I assume you have been there too- it is easy to be deceived. I do not think that it is impossible for God to overcome a situation like that, but for reasons that He only knows, that situation often leads to unbelief.
On the other hand, if American Christianity cultivated a culture where people openly discuss their questions, concerns, doubts, and struggles I think that this situation would be avoided, or at least happen less frequently.
There is a great Ross King song called “The Non-Religious Me” where he addresses this. He points to two instances in Jesus’ life that should influence the way that we Christians address strugglers.
One is when Jesus asks if there is another way, other than the Cross. The other is when He slipped and stumbled when he was carrying the Cross.
The gist is that if Jesus, who had no beginning and no end and was the Son of God and was God, asked for a way to avoid the brutality of the Cross and stumbled when carrying the Cross, why should we expect sinful, imperfect Christians not to have doubts or stumble?
This all has a negative feel to it, so I’d like to tack on a little something about the beauty of Christianity here.
If we all sin, then what is the difference between believers and unbelievers?
Those who have true saving faith in Jesus, have promises of future recompense for our faith, but I don’t think that those promises alone are going to convince unbelievers.
I cannot prove without a doubt that God exists, just as you cannot prove without a doubt that God does not exist.
No matter how sound of an argument I could possibly construct, at some point it is going to come down to faith.
However, I think that reason and ration and thought can close the gap. There is still a leap of faith, but I don’t like to take big, blind leaps. That is not what it was for me. I was convinced that the life that Christianity provides really is the best life that a person can have. I was fed up with the female sex and all of the problems that I had experienced with them. I wrote a blog that goes into more detail on this- http://bigham.wordpress.com/2007/08/25/lets-talk-about-sex/
Long story short, I identified that the characteristics that I wanted in a potential wife were characteristics that are components of Christianity. I believed that Christians were misled at the time, but believed that Christians were in general better people than non-Christians were. I believed they were more virtuous. So I decided that a Christian girl would be ideal, because she would have virtues that would be beneficial in a wife, and I believed this would also benefit the children that I hope to have someday, in that they would be more virtuous with a Christian mother.
I also had in the back of mind something that I read a long time ago in some men’s magazine. The article sited research done by The Kinsey Institute, which found that the people who were most satisfied in their sex lives were those in faithful marriages. I didn’t totally agree with that, in large part because I had been Americanized enough to think that more partners = more satisfying sex life. I don’t know if people come out and say it that explicitly, but it is everywhere you look.
So those things, along with seeing the happiness in a lot of Christian friends, and conversations with my brother, the seminary teacher and preacher, had me in a position to be open to Christianity.
All that to say this: one of the beauties of Christianity is that it provides us with a way to avoid cowardice and to stand up and fight against the failures that we all want to avoid.
You do things that you don’t want to do, as do I. The difference is that before I was dragged into Christianity against my will by God, I had a defeatist mentality towards things that I now call sins, some of which I thought were wrong then, some of which I didn’t. I was a coward to those things. They were a waste of time, only brought troubles, and were never satisfying. And yet I was a slave to them, and gave in like a coward every time they called.
I am nowhere near perfect, and I still struggle with many of the same things. But I struggle with them less often. And the victories that I have experienced have allowed me to pursue greater pleasures.
I was holding out against Christianity in large part because of some things that I saw as great pleasures. One of the great things about my conversion is that I have seen that those pleasures were nowhere near as great as I thought they were.
The greatest pleasures that this world has to offer can only be found by knowing God and enjoying Him.
The only catch is that you have to submit to His son.
Joshua 4:14 says, “On that day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; so that they revered him, just as they revered Moses all the days of his life.”
My hope and prayer is that some how, some way God will exalt Jesus in your life in such a way that it will not even be a choice. The only option that you will see is to revere Jesus all the days of your life, and that will cause you to joyfully concur and delight in the law of the Lord, and in His law you will meditate day and night!
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