Coat Tail Christian?
I have grown up in a Christian family, and since I was little, I have always believed that Christianity is the “correct” religion, up until now. I have recently doubted a lot of things about Christianity, and some of the stories seem a bit far-fetched. I think I need some guidance. Could you please help?
– E. from unknown location
Spiritual Coat Tails (Part 1)
Yes, I do believe I can help. At least I hope so. I believe you are suffering from a very common malady that I like to call “coat tail Christianity.” I suffered from it myself as a young adult. I had been raised in a Christian home, but as an adult I couldn’t reconcile certain things and I simply drifted away. Basically, for the twenty some years before, I had rested on my parent’s spiritual coat tails. I had never really embraced Christ for myself.
Perhaps that is what happened to you. But you are at an advantage. Some people go their whole lives on the spiritual coat tails of those who went before them, and when they go into eternity they are in for a shock. Jesus said; “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6). Your doubts are a blessing, which can lead you to a mature and firm decision to follow Christ—or not. God gives us free will, as He longs for our heart.
Handling Doubts (Part 2)
Doubts lead to questions and questions lead to deeper examination. If we are sincere in searching for truth, the Holy Spirit will not disappoint. “And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). Are you ready to do that? Do you want the truth, and are you ready to pursue it with all your heart? I think just the fact that you submitted your question says you are. So what do you do next?
First of all, accept that all your doubts are valid for submission to God. Really, there is nothing that you have doubted that hasn’t been brought up to Him many times before. And being God, He is already well aware of every question that nags you. He created you uniquely and knows the number of hairs on your head. He wants you to find Him, so the two of you can begin the journey of a lifetime, and have a deep intimate loving relationship.
I will suggest a few things to get you started. Begin with prayer. “Lord, if you are real, show yourself to me. Please help me as I struggle with all these doubts. Help me find answers; help me find truth.” Use that or any words that come naturally to you. It might then be a good idea to write down your questions, and mention all the stories that seem far-fetched to you. Journaling helps with processing and I have always found it extremely helpful.
Next, get a good study bible and begin reading, using all the helps and study notes it has. I think a good choice for you would be The Apologetics Study Bible. It was designed to answer questions. Does science support the Bible? Is there evidence for life after death? Are Christ’s claims unique? Is the Old Testament trustworthy? The front cover of mine says: “Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith.” It is written from the perspective of answering a questioning heart and I think you will find that it handles many of your doubts.
Making a Choice (Part 3)
Somewhere along the way, you will come to a place of decision. Do you want to leave the coat tails and have your own relationship with Christ or not? When I was struggling with this for myself, I remember that this thought kept going through my head: “If God is real and is who He says He is, then He is worthy to be served with a whole heart.” I don’t know how I knew that but I did. So I wrestled and wrestled until I came to a place that was such a firm YES that it would last a lifetime.
Your doubts can be the beginning of that place for you. So be grateful for every one. God is big enough to handle them, and He is big enough to woo you to Himself. God bless you as you start this awesome journey that culminates in eternity. Hope to see you there!