Sunday, December 8, 2013

Un-Apologetic, Part 4: My Story

I thought I would finish off this series by sharing a little about myself. It may seem a little off topic, but it will makes sense by the end.

I grew up in a strong Christian family. My parents raised me to believe, and we faithfully attended church every Sunday. I believed what I was taught, and followed a mostly straight-and-narrow path. While attending junior college, I met a special young woman. We began dating, and I fell in love with her. She was not a Christian when I met her, but began attending church with me, and after 7 months together, told me that she prayed and accepted Jesus as her Savior. Three years later, we got married. Things gradually unraveled, and our relationship grew distant. She walked away from the Church, and my relationship with God grew cold. In the summer of 2006, five years into our marriage, she decided to move out, and I decided to share my growing resentment of God with my dad and one of my brothers. I had come to see God as unjust and not worthy of my love. I couldn't make sense of His system of justice, and I wanted clear answers to all my questions. I doubted the truth of His Word. I still attended church, but more as a spectator than a participant. I wanted to give God a chance to prove me wrong.

It was a week before Christmas, and my mom decided she would take me shopping for my gifts, which in this case would be some decorative art for my living room. On the drive home, she confronted me about my unbelief. My mom laid out an emotional plea for me, saying she didn't want to go into the new year not knowing if I was saved. I kind of expected that, but what caught me off guard was one thing in particular that she said. In response to my quest for answers, she said, "You have to have faith. You can't be saved without faith!" That may seem like an obvious statement, but somehow I had never thought of it in the way that her statement implied. I was trying to figure God out first before I gave Him my trust. As we pulled up to my parents' house, she asked me if I would pray with her. Reluctantly, I agreed to give my life back to Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. A few days later, I remember coming to the realization that my perspective had changed. I was giving God the benefit of the doubt by no longer doubting. In the years since, I've had my ups and downs, but I believe that God has grown my initial step of "mustard seed" faith into something much greater.

What I've learned from my own experience is that God is asking each of us to not merely believe in Him, but more importantly, to believe Him. What I see in the growing liberalization of Christianity is an unwillingness to take God at His word. The foundational book of Genesis is the primary target, and consequently is leading to doubts about historical accuracy throughout Scripture. As I explained in the previous post, one cannot disbelieve one part of Scripture and believe the others without becoming arbitrary, and ultimately developing a worldview built on inconsistencies. Some will argue that belief in the Genesis account of creation destroys our credibility with unbelievers, and effectively creates a stumbling block for belief. To that I reply that God isn't looking for easy belief. God is looking for faith in what defies our own understanding. Let's remember what our risen Lord said to one of His disciples:

"Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, 'We have seen the Lord.' So he said to them, 'Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.' And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, 'Peace to you!' Then He said to Thomas, 'Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.' And Thomas answered and said to Him, 'My Lord and my God!' Jesus said to him, 'Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'" (John 20:24-29)

The account concludes in verses 30-31 with these highly applicable words: "And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name."

We ought to have faith in God like that of a child (see Luke 18:15-17). What does that look like? I believe it to mean that what God tells us, we believe to be true. As children, we believed whatever our parents told us because we believed them to be an authority on truth. In their imperfection, they may not have been deserving of that level of trust, but we believed. Why can't we trust our Creator who is deserving? He gave us His Word so we might know the Truth. This is why I have no apologies for believing that God created the universe in six literal days, or that a donkey could speak to a man, or that a man could live three days in the belly of a fish and live to tell about it, or that Jesus Christ could be a dead, rotting corpse, and on the third day rise again. It is not too much to trust in God's Word above man's. God is perfect and holy and true. If He weren't, would He be worthy of our worship?

What we as Christians believe is at the very core of who we are in Christ. We cannot afford to compromise with the world when it comes to the Truth of the Bible. God gave us His Word so we might know about Him, and by accepting Him in faith, He might reveal Himself to us personally by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. My pastor made a great point this morning about wisdom. In speaking about the wise men in Matthew 2:1-12, He said that wisdom does not come before faith, but faith comes before wisdom. Who are we to call ourselves wise, or to say that we know better than what God has revealed to us through His Word? Now I want to be clear that I don't claim that belief in six-day creationism is necessary for salvation, but I do think that those who disbelieve it should seriously consider why they don't. Are you open to the possibility that it just might be true? I write these things for those of you who still value the Bible as God's written Word. Remember what He has said, and don't take my word for it. I'll leave you with this familiar passage from the authoritative book on wisdom:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and depart from evil.
It will be health to your flesh,
And strength to your bones."
(Proverbs 3:5-8)