Growing up. We have been talking about it for days now. But one aspect of growing up is choosing faith for ourselves.
How do we know that the faith our parents taught us is true? I know when I was a young adult, I was going through much of what I learned as a child, assessing what I could accept for myself and what I wanted to toss.
I guess it was like moving away from home. You pack some things, even things you don’t really need, and toss things you don’t need or want because they don’t fit you anymore.
Some people toss everything and start over again. Others realize that there is much they want to keep…they just aren’t sure what fits and what doesn’t. I was in the latter category.
I memorized quite a bit of Scripture as a child and young adult. Throughout my life, it has been incredibly helpful to me…both in discerning truth and in helping me know what is important to keep and what to toss. I wish I could use it for material goods right now. My kids will tell you I have a lot that I need to toss for sure!
Are you developing a negative worldview or a positive one?
What are you teaching your children?
Sadly, much of what I was taught and what I caught from my childhood teaching was more in the negative. A Christian is a Christian because we don’t do x or we don’t participate in y. The list was long! When I got out of christian schools and into “the world”, I learned that the language of the people I interacted with was on a different plane. It was almost like we spoke two languages and I was trying to learn their language because I knew mine didn’t communicate…at all!
I also realized I needed to understand what I believed in the positive so I could communicate my beliefs in understandable words. That would inform my reasons for the way I lived my life in a positive way. As I started trying to figure out what I believed, GOD brought people and books into my life that were very helpful. This was long before the internet! I won’t go into the process here, but I can tell you that if you ask for this kind of help from Him, He will bring you the help you need!
Over a period of years, both before and after my marriage to Ron, He provided help for me in this area including help from Ron in explaining theological concepts…what different views were and why he believed the ones he did, etc. We had a number of interesting theological discussions in unique contexts!
By far, the most dramatic and basic concept…and life-changing, has been the concept of the grace of GOD! It is basic to the Christian life and affects all of life. So where do we stand if we are in Christ?
What does it mean to be “in Christ”?
If we are in Christ, we have repented of our sin (repentance involves not only sorrow for sin, but a desire to change the direction of our life). By grace, we have received the free gift of salvation paid for by Jesus on the cross when He died on the cross. That gift includes the exchanging of my sinful record for the perfect record of Christ. His record of living on earth 33 years without a sinful thought, word or deed was perfect.
When I came to Him for forgiveness, I wasn’t just asking for forgiveness of sin, I was bringing the book of all the sins of my life to Jesus and giving it to Him. He was giving me the record of His perfect life. Then, when He died on the cross, He had my record book and those of everyone else, with Him (so to speak) on the cross. That is the sin He was paying for!
When the Father turned away from Jesus, it was because of all the sin that was on Him. Jesus had never had sin on Him. It was a bitter cup for Him…to be separated from the Father.
The completion of that victory over death was when Jesus rose from the dead on Easter. That was when He fulfilled the promise to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:15 by bashing in the head of the serpent, Satan.
As a result, those of us in Christ are sons and daughters of the King!
We aren’t orphans or foster kids trying to earn His favor.
So now, as believers, we are not living the Christian life to earn His favor, we are living out our Christian lives because we are part of His family. We aren’t orphans or foster children who want to be on good behavior so He will like us enough to adopt us. We are just living out who we are as sons and daughters of the King of Kings. We’ve been accepted and loved…and forgiven!
The problem is we often forget who we are. To use the analogy of the Prodigal son, we get lost in the everyday details of “feeding the pigs” that we forget we don’t belong there. It isn’t part of our identity at all! We belong to the Father and can return to Him. He is waiting to have the Welcome Home Party for his lost child and we are worried about saving face! It’s a bit ludicrous!
He already knows the worst about us! He knows better than we do how sinful we are. He knows the motives behind even our best behavior that is so often flawed and full of either self-righteous or self-serving motives. He knows what is there even when it is too difficult for us to look at…yet, He loves us! He has adopted us into His family at great personal cost to Himself. The death of His only son Jesus! We belong to Him!
It took me years for this “simple” concept to register in my heart. I got that I was a sinner most of the time. I got that He was holy and without sin, to the degree I could “get” it.
But to understand that I was loved and accepted as His child because of Christ. It was too far beyond me to believe! I knew I didn’t deserve it. Which is the whole point of grace! WE.DON’T.DESERVE.ANY.OF.IT!
To understand that my acceptance for heaven and salvation was because of Christ’s righteousness, not mine…that took me a very long time to “get”…to the degree that I understand it now. Obviously, I still have a long way to grow in this understanding, but I’m beginning to get the concept…in more than my head. It is sinking into my gut!
Now, I need to pass this grace on in forgiveness, loving others, and passing it on in the many mundane activities of life. These are all things few of us want to do at the time. But that is what grace is all about…sharing the life of Christ with others, freely.
Learn what you believe. This is basic to who you are as a person. Don’t passively go along with the beliefs of your parents or people around you. Ask GOD to give you wisdom regarding the beliefs He has shown in Scripture that are true. Often, you will take on many of the basic beliefs you had, but will be expressing them in a different way because of the generation you are growing up in and the combination of the gifts, personality and life situation you find yourself in. Just be certain the basis of what you believe is based on Scripture.
If you are struggling, ask some friends, family, pastor or other wise people in your life to assist you in this quest including helps in what to read, listen to, think about.