I read on my social media feeds that many people do not believe in God. I also read many who once believed have shut the door on God for one reason or another. Some grew up in a home where Christ was taught, and maybe it was driven in a bit too hard, or perhaps life outside grew too loud, and the restrictions that Christianity seemed to place on them held on too tightly. Now they are free and living life the way they believe they should be able to. In either case, people are on roads leading away from God. As a follower of Christ, this discourages me.
There are many people I follow on social media who consistently question faith. Some quite openly. And while people need to ask questions and find answers, they don’t need to corner others with a false presumption that their ideas are wrong and beliefs are based on fallacies. I believe what I believe based on faith. To say that I am wrong or to challenge me to a fight in the schoolyard is rude and counterproductive.
On the other side of the fence, many Christians often go too far with their faith, telling non-Christians that they will burn in hell because they don’t fall on their knees and accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. I shake my head when I see this happen. This is one reason why Christians have earned themselves a bad reputation. If this has happened to you, let me be the first to say I’m sorry. This is NOT who Christ is.
Differences of Faith
There is a difference between religion and Christianity. There is a difference between Christianity and being saved. Far too many Christians force labels on people to get them to go through the motions to get them to join a club and feel good about the number of people ‘going to heaven.’ True Christianity is not about numbers. True Christianity is about relationship. It is why it is difficult to label myself as a Christian because of the negative connotation that it brings. But it is what I am. I am a Christ follower. Jesus Christ died for my sins. He rose again on the third day. I believe in that with all my heart; because of that, I have forgiveness of my sins and will join Him in Heaven someday. But it goes beyond that. As I stated, it is a relationship.
Relationship of Faith
Part of that relationship is with other people. Can you have this type of relationship outside of Christianity? Honestly, I don’t believe so. I say this because it involves everyone—even those you don’t particularly get along with. Christians are called to love all. They are called to go beyond themselves and see not only the ones close to them but the ones outside their circle and accept them, to love them, no matter how they have wronged them.
Now I am not saying that if someone has murdered your parents that you invite them to your next dinner party. This is a different type of love. This is a letting go of the hatred you would typically hold for someone. Forgiving them and getting on with your life. Does it still hurt? Yes. Will it still pain you to see or think of that person? Of course. But holding animosity toward them only hurts you. Choosing to give that part of your feelings to God and letting go of hatred will help you deal with the pain you feel. This is, of course, not humanly possible. It comes from the strength we get from giving our pain to God and allowing Him to work through our hearts to bestow forgiveness to the ones who hurt us.
Now, most of us don’t have to deal with others in such a brutal fashion. But we do deal with people who have wronged us: a friend, coworker, or even a family member. We can choose to hold on to that pain or that wrong, or we can choose to forgive.
Story of Forgiveness and Faith
One of the ultimate stories of family forgiveness is the story of The Lost Son. The story is about a son who is tired of home life. He wants to move out and live his own life. So, he approaches his father and asks for his portion of the inheritance. His father gives it to him, and the son leaves home. He goes into the city and lives a lavish lifestyle for quite a while. But not being disciplined, he eventually runs out of money. He then must find work, but times turn tough, and he can only find work on a farm slopping pigs. He realizes his error and decides to return home and see if he can work as a hired hand there. When he arrives, his father sees him in the distance and runs to him. He falls to his feet in tears. He immediately calls to his servants to bring him a robe and sandals. His son tries to recite his prepared speech about how he has sinned against the family, but his dad wouldn’t have it. He was his son, and he wouldn’t accept him as a slave. He then threw him a party because he thought he was dead.
Then his brother came home and was upset that they were having a party for his brother, who had squandered a fortune. But his dad tried to convince him to join the party because his brother had come home alive.
The moral of the story is that we are all like the brother who wanders from home. We think we know what is best for our lives. The father, God, lets us do as we please. He does so because He is a loving God, and we have freedom of choice. It is our lives; He is a gentleman who will not force Himself into our lives. But he is searching for us on the horizon, looking for us to return —wanting us to return home. And when we hit the point where we get tired of slopping pigs, we have the choice to eat the muck or return to our Father. And he will celebrate our return.
The Sum of Faith
People sometimes will say, “Why did God let that happen to me?” or “God caused that to happen.” Well, that is not true. We allowed it to happen when we made the choice to walk away from the family home and live the life we chose to live. All we have to do is return home. Will it be easy? Not always. Will all our problems be solved by returning home? Heh, not always. Will He celebrate our return? You betcha!! Will I celebrate? Most definitely. It’s why I do what I do. To help direct you to a relationship with Christ. NOT Christianity. NOT to religion. All of those will fail you. As, most likely, you have experienced. Once you encounter Jesus, you will realize how different He is from all of those. It is personal and has nothing to do with anything organized.
If you have any questions, message me. I would be glad to talk to you about a personal relationship with Jesus. This is not about joining a church or about finding religion. It is about discovering who He is and the love He has for you. You will find that even He is against all of those.
Photo by Alberto Bigoni on Unsplash
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