In the past year I have put a lot of energy into strengthening my faith. I've joined a church group, go to church regularly and have read numerous books on God, faith, inspiration, etc. I often feel that I'm either on the verge of "getting it" or "losing it" and that it could go either way. Do you have any suggestions for solidifying a firm belief in God and all that he is?
- G. from Canada
Basis of Faith (Part 1)
The first question for you to ask yourself is this: what is the basis of my "faith"? The things that you mention that you do such as joining a church group etc. don't answer that question. Are you born again? Have you surrendered your life fully to Jesus Christ? Do you have a place in your life that you can point to as a "conversion"?
If the answer is no, that is the first step toward a solid belief in God and relationship with Christ that will sustain you through the rough roads. If the answer is yes, than go back and affirm your original confession of faith.
I would suggest you state out loud that commitment - perhaps every morning as you rise. You could say something like: "Lord, at such and such time I gave you my life and I want to reaffirm that commitment to you. I bow my knee to you and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Holy Spirit, please help me today and lead me into all truth."
Let's say that you made a solid confession of faith at some time and you are a born again Christian. That does not insure that you will not go through some rough struggles with faith as you are finding out now.
There are two things that will fight you tooth and nail from holding fast to your faith. First is the devil. He will pick at you constantly to doubt God, question your faith, and steal the abundant life Jesus wants to give you. "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10)
The second thing that will fight you is yourself - your own flesh. Here is what we all contend with: "For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-is not of the Father but is of the world." (1 John 2:16)
With your current struggle, probably both elements are at work. Now to your real question: what is going to win out?
Next: Which way to go?
The Challenge (Part 2)
I'm not going to try to convince you of all the reasons why you need to "get it" rather than "lose it." (Again, make sure you've "got it" to begin with before proceeding to keeping it.) Instead, I want to challenge you to look at a little bit bigger picture.
Many people are induced - even cajoled, to come to Christ with a bunch of great promises about all the benefits. Assurance of eternity in heaven. Complete forgiveness of sins. Peace of soul that passes all understanding. Blessings and abundance. Yes, all true. But there is another side which few present. Don't forget to count the cost. There are some promises about how hard it will be.
- Jesus said: "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:62)
- Jesus said: "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me." (Matthew 10:38)
- Part of a parable Jesus taught: "And they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word's sake, immediately they stumble." (Mark 4:17) That means we can expect hard times.
- Jesus said: "A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you." (John 15:20)
Honestly, if you are going to follow Christ you might as well do it with your eyes wide open. We are called into a great army and what do armies do best? FIGHT. This earth is a battleground and if you enlist you can expect to see some action. Follow Christ for what you can do to make his enemies his footstool (See Hebrews 10:12-13) rather than what he can do for you to make your life cozy and comfortable.
This is the most exciting time to be on planet earth since Jesus walked here 2000 years ago. In my opinion, being alive at this time in history is a particular privilege and carries a particular responsibility. There is a divine call on all Christians to prepare for the eminent Second Coming of Christ. There are also some special assignments pending for any with courage and faith who will ask for them.
Are you one? Will you sign up? Before reading any other inspiration, read God's Word every day. Pray and meditate on what HE says. Offer yourself in the role of his servant because he says a servant is greatest in the kingdom.
Have you read the book of Revelation? Notice that in the end, we win! Why would you consider "losing it" when you are already on the winning side?