Monday, May 21, 2012

Thing Number Four | Spirit

I’ve been a Christian since I was three years old. My daddy was the pastor of a Mennonite Brethren Church and he and my mommy had taken me to church since I was old enough to leave the house; so, probably the Sunday after I was born. I’d heard the stories of Jesus and believed that He was the son of God and God Himself and I was ready to give my life to Him and ask Him to be my Lord and Savior. Inasmuch as any three year old is able to make the conscious choice to accept and devote herself to a somewhat rigid and ardent belief system at such a tender age.

I’ve never regretted that choice. Sure, I’ve had moments of doubt. I’ve had times when I questioned God’s wisdom or His goodness or His faithfulness. I’ve cried out to Him, asking Him to reveal Himself to me, to prove that He is real. But I’ve never regretted choosing to believe, even when the evidence didn’t seem to be there.

In the thirty-six years since I first gave my heart to Jesus, I’ve developed and refined my faith. I went to a Christian liberal arts college and I have a minor (30 semester units) in Bible. I studied the Old and New Testaments, took an apologetics course, and learned how to study the Bible inductively. I studied great writers of the faith, like C.S. Lewis. Since that time, I’ve continued to question and deepen my faith. I think it’s impossible to grow your faith without questioning it. I’m constantly asking myself, “Why do I believe this?” Is it supported by the Bible or is it just a tradition? If it’s a tradition, is it one that I accept? What exactly do I believe? Why don’t I believe what other people believe? What sets my faith, my belief system, apart from theirs?

Here’s a little bit of what I believe and why. People, as a whole, seek the spiritual. That is why there are so many world religions, from tiny cults to worldwide faiths. What sets Christianity apart is that it states clearly that it’s not about me, it’s about God. Nothing I can do can make me good enough for God. No amount of meditation or self-discipline or good works or prayer and confession apart from salvation can bridge the gap that sin creates between me and a perfect God. There is nothing I, in and of myself, can do. Nothing. All I can do is recognize my sin, acknowledge my need for a savior, and humbly accept the salvation that Christ offers in order for me to be reconciled to God. That’s all. That’s it. And it’s different from anything any other religion or belief system says. God offers salvation. All we have to do is accept it. It’s not easy to set aside my innate human hubris and admit that I need something apart from myself. But I do. I need God: the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.

Jon and Jamie leading worship at Bible Study. When Jon plays his guitar and sings as we worship, I feel the tension in me unroll like a ball of string. It's as if all the craziness of the week gets wound up in a ball that I carry around inside me. The ball gets bigger and bigger as the stress increases. On Thursday nights, during worship, the ball unrolls and the stress relaxes and I feel like I can breathe.

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