I remember the moment quite clearly when I was really trying to set the foundation for my faith and figure out what I believed and the reasons behind my beliefs. I was going through a time of questioning what I thought I believed and one day during my time in prayer, I felt a response to my questions about whether this whole Christianity thing was the real deal – whether it was really worth spending my life and time following Jesus.
I had spent a considerable amount of time in study and completed hundreds of hours of reading through insurance related curriculum and insurance policy wordings in order to obtain a professional designation for my career. I don’t really know anyone who has completed that much studying on insurance who was over-the-top excited about all of the required reading in those courses.
The response I felt that day in prayer went something along the lines of, you’ve spent how much time and effort learning about insurance – what it is, how it works, about different types of policies and regulations? Through all of that, you gained a greater understanding of insurance and the insurance industry. Why are you asking if God is real, as if the answer will just be dropped into your mind? To really know the answers to your questions, you need to search them for yourself. I have given you my word. If you want to know me, study my word, consider what I say, and understand the answers to your questions.
That was the beginning of the first time I read my way through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. I learned so much during that first trip through the whole Bible.
Even though I know each one of us has a different journey through life and faith, I have always thought that each of us gets to this place at some point early in our faith where we wrestle through our questions and decide what we believe, especially those who have spent decades in the church and live a life that is modeled by faith.
Earlier this year, I found what I have always thought challenged as I listened to someone I was in conversation with as they talked about trying to settle in at a new church they were attending. This particular individual was someone who was raised in a Christian family, someone who has gone to church regularly for decades and has gone on missions trips. This is someone who would appear to be mature in their faith.
I was surprised as they spoke with concern about an activity at the new church that they weren’t comfortable with. I wasn’t surprised by their concern. I wasn’t surprised by the activity happening at that particular church. I was surprised at this person’s response. They were uncomfortable with something that was happening at this church because they didn’t ‘feel’ it was right. Their response was, “But as uncomfortable as it makes me, who am I to judge? If someone can show me a scripture that says this is okay, then who am I to complain?”
To me this response spoke volumes about where this person is at in their faith. They don’t have a clear understanding of what they think they believe and beyond that, there is no desire to find anything out about their faith themselves. And I realized that I was wrong. I was mistaken to think that everyone who has been around church and active in their churches for a long time has gone through a process of establishing their own foundation for their faith and beliefs.
Where am I going with this? If we profess to be Christians, and claim to try to be living our lives as Christians, it only makes sense that we have an understanding of what we believe and that we spend time getting to know what it means to be a Christian, what it looks like, how it plays out.
Can you imagine someone professing to be a pilot because they like to spend a lot of time at airports but not really having any idea about flying any type of aircraft? Suppose the professed pilot is asked to fly an airplane from Montreal to Toronto. It would likely be a good idea to read some navigation charts and file a flight plan. Can you imagine the professed pilot not bothering to read the navigation charts and saying, “If someone wants to show me a path then I’ll consider looking at it. Otherwise, I’m content to just get up in the air make my own way to Toronto.” What if the professed pilot had never bothered to learn how to speak properly on the radio to the air traffic controllers or to understand the directions being given by the air traffic controllers? Anyone want to be a passenger on that flight?
Where I ‘m trying to go with this is that it’s not enough for us to ‘say’ we’re Christians and show up to a church service once in a while. It won’t work. Just like the pilot who won’t read flight navigation charts will run into trouble when they can’t find an airport or runway and fuel is running low, a Christian who doesn’t spend time reading and studying the Bible is going to get into trouble when they’re asked a question about their faith, or they have a crisis in their life and don’t know where to find answers. If we don’t spend time in prayer and learn how to communicate (communication isn’t just a one way conversation) with God, learn how to hear His voice, how to seek His direction, you’re likely to say things like, “I just don’t feel that God hears my prayers and I don’t know if He answers my prayers”.
Just as it’s a matter of life and death for a pilot to be able to read navigation charts and communicate with air traffic controllers properly, for Christians it’s a matter of eternal life and death for us to know and understand what we believe, and to know why we believe the way we do.
Phillipians 2:12 says, “ Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,”
And 1 Peter 3:15 says, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,”
Both of these scriptures direct us to know and understand what we believe.
If you’re a Christian and like I was, are looking for answers to what you believe, along with reading your Bible and praying, here are two sermons by a favourite pastor of mine that talk about what Christians believe and explains what being a Christian is about.