Yesterday's post regarding my reaction to Nancy Pelosi's comments concerning the so-called war on women got me thinking. Actually, I've been thinking about this off and on for a while now; I just haven't felt ready to articulate those thoughts. I'm probably still not ready, but here goes.
Regular visitors who have read any amount of my musings here at the Stream of Consciousness have seen my account - my faith story - my testimony - how I came to be in a personal relationship with God. One thing I've noticed is that there are some differences between Christians who have been Christians for almost as long as they can remember and folks like me. And by that I mean people who lived a significant part of their lives separated from God. I suspect I'll have to go down that rabbit hole in a blog someday - just not today.
It's not that I didn't hear the names God or Jesus during those years; it's more that I did not pay them any attention, and when I did, it wasn't in a way that I am very proud of. So how did I move from not caring about God to caring deeply about Him? In short, there were two different things that contributed to me entering into a saving relationship with Jesus:
1. Seeking: I don't particular care for this term as it relates to looking for God. Contrary to popular opinion, God isn't hiding from us. The seeking I did was more along the lines of me looking for Him because I had lost my way and needed to find Him - but I don't believe He had ever moved. I also don't care for this term when it's coupled with the idea that God is different for everyone; like there are some infinite number of gods that we can choose from and we just have to seek and find the one that is right for us.
Is god red, shiny and really fast?
My official seeking took the form of just living my life and being around people here and there - my wife, my mother-in-law, a colleague at work - who talked about God and Jesus. Sometimes I would just listen; sometimes I would enter into discussion about a particular comment or topic that came up. Other times I would go away, later pondering what was said.
I had the good fortune to live abroad for twelve or thirteen years of my life, both during childhood and as an adult. I have lived in England and in the Middle East. I traveled extensively on the Arabian peninsula and was also able to visit several African countries, Thailand and India. During those years I spoke to many people about their faith or lack thereof. As you might imagine from that life experience, I had a very broad pallet of beliefs I could have chosen from.
2. Deciding: Both of these terms are slippery and can mean different things for different folks. When someone says, "I've decided to be a Christian," that sounds a little to me like saying, "I'll have the veal." Deciding is the end result of seeking. If I was looking for a new car and had an unlimited budget, I might very well decide to purchase that Ferrari up there once I had explored all the various automotive options available to me. I've always had a thing for Ferrari, ever since being at Formula 1 race tracks in Europe as a kid.
Don't get me wrong, there is a decision point that occurs when someone becomes a Christian. For me though, it was more of a choice than a decision. I clearly heard God calling me to accept that Jesus did what He did for me, and that I needed to make a choice - a decision - to accept Him as my Savior.
Or not. At that moment, to coin a cheesy line - a moment frozen in time - I had to receive God's free gift of salvation through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus.
So who is God?
Maybe the reason that people believe in so many gods is that God manifests himself differently depending upon each of our unique situations. Back in the day, the words, "Religion is a crutch," came out of my mouth on more than one occasion. But when you get right down to it, what is the purpose of anyone making a choice to believe in God?
The purpose for buying a car is to have transportation, a means of conveyance to get us from point A to point B to point C and back again. But as humans, we load up the basic need for transportation with all sorts of personal baggage: style, color, performance, roominess, comfort, cost, etc. Buying a car has progressed way beyond meeting a need and has become a matter of personal taste (and budget).
Unfortunately, I think that in our world God has also progressed way beyond meeting a need and become a matter of personal taste. Think about that for a moment. If you have any inkling that there may be an omnipotent, creator-God who loves you, do you believe that He is just going to sit back and let you decide what or who God is?
This is one huge (bankrupt) crutch
I can't choose what you believe. Personally, I think for each and every one of us there is a need for salvation. That need is foundational to my belief in God and the atoning work of Jesus Christ. If there isn't a need for salvation then what Jesus did becomes meaningless. If there isn't a need for salvation then all the religions of the world - all the faith of billions of people - become like so many Ferrari - nice, but ultimately meaningless.
However, if there is a need for salvation, your faith decision is not something you will want to put off for too long. It's not about republican or democrat, or this church and that church; it's about a personal decision between you and God. No one can make the decision for you. You have to choose.