Saturday, April 5, 2008

Not Ashamed

As a Christian, it is wise to know what you believe and why you believe it. It is not a good idea to say you believe something because "my mama said so" or "the preacher said it's true". Though you trust these people in your life, it is imperative that you study to "shew thyself approved". Sitting through a sermon or Sunday school lesson is not studying; reading the Bible and seeking God's help for understanding what you are reading is studying. Studying is something that is done on one's own, though you may seek out counsel from others who are familiar with the subject. However, most often you learn the most when you spend time alone with your study tools. In the case, the Bible is your main tool.

I was first introduced to the internet about 1996. At that time, I had only been born-again for about 6 years. Though I had grown as a Christian, there was considerable growth on my part after my husband introduced me to the intetnet and newsgroups. What an eye-opener for a young Christian. I knew there were people who did not believe in God at all, or who believed but held to different doctrines that I did. I just had never really come face-to-face with them.

In order to have an intelligent conversation about what I believed and why, this forced me to study on my own. A lot. It did not take long for me to come to grips with my own personal beliefs and those of the independent, fundamental Baptist church I belong to. What was harder for me and what really continued to be a source of frustration for me up until recently, was listening to those who are unbelievers (athiests/agnostics, etc) talk about blind faith, the Bible being a fairy tale, how Christians can't/don't think for themselves, how intolerant Christians are, and other such potentially offensive diatribe. It just really made me angry reading statements and falsehoods like this. I just didn't deal with it well.

Then came the day when I just couldn't argue about whether God was real or not anymore. I realized that arguing really wasn't getting me, or the person I was arguing with, anywhere. I wasn't going to change their minds, and they weren't going to change mine. Period. I could share/state what my particiular beliefs are, and why I believe like I do, but I couldn't force anyone to accept them. And, really, that's not what God has called believers to do. His calling was to preach the gospel, teach all nations, and be a witness of His grace, mercy, long-suffering, and love.

I bring up this subject because yesterday I came across the blog of a woman who was raised Catholic but later, after doing some studying on her own, decided that God isn't real and has rejected everything about Him.

Lots of that old frustration from my early years on the internet came flooding back. I can't even really convey exactly all of the feelings I was having as I read the different entries on her blog from the past few weeks. I just knew that I was upset.

Then I realized that every time she reads a blog like mine, a Christian blog that talks about how God is alive and at work in our lives, she probably gets upset too. In fact, she was quite upset in one of her posts about something to do with creation vs. evolution.

It's all probably just a natural human response: get defensive when some expresses a belief that opposes our own. Especially when that person has a tendency to express their views in a derogatory way or makes it seem as if you are a mindless idiot for believing what you do.

And maybe this is one of the reasons that I have gotten angry and defensive when faced with accusations such as being a mindless idiot, not thinking for myself, for accepting God on blind faith, and not being able to prove God with science. I know that God is real! I have experienced that reality every day of my life. When falsehoods fly my way because I am a believer, I cannot allow them to influence me in a way that makes me ashamed of my faith in what Christ did for me at Calvary. While nobody enjoys being the minority, that's just the way it is in the Christian life, and I refuse to feel ashamed of my beliefs any longer.

Even more, I believe that God has given us all the choice to believe in Him or not. Of course, with that right also comes the fact that there are consequences for whatever choice we make, though I'm sure that the unbelievers out there will disagree with that latter part. Well, actually, they will likely disagree with me on both accounts.

Another thing I have come to realize is that the Founding Fathers and writers of the Constitution and First Amendment gave us the right to practice either our faith or unbelief as citizens of the United States of America. The government cannot force even one of its citizens to attend a certain church or accept that God is real, nor can it keep any from practicing his faith. Neither does God force unbelievers to accept Him in this life. If any were forced to accept God, wouldn't that be a meaningless relationship! Regardless, this life on Earth

Somethig I often think about is the fact that if, and that is a huge if, I am wrong, what do I have to lose? Nothing, according to what a lot of unbelievers hold to. If there is nothing after this life, what's the big deal about believing in God and that Christ died for my sins?

However, if I am right, then I have an eternity in Heaven waiting for me one day. I have lost nothing but gained everything. If the athiest/agnostic/unbeliever are wrong, then they have lost absolutely everything. Forever. That is a frightening thought to me. To know that you were given an opportunity to have it all, but you made the wrong choice.

So, what's the point in this whole thing? It's this: we all have the right to make a choice in what we believe, and we all have to right to write about it and discuss it on the internet. You may be offended about what others believe . . . or don't believe. You might even get defensive. But Christians, always remember this:

Never be ashamed about what you believe no matter what they say about you. Stand in boldness.

Romans 5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

1 Peter 4: 16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

Full of hope and no more ashamed.




Deborah said...

Hi Julia, Great post! I come from a big family, with many different beliefs. You finally come to the point when you realize that agruing is not going to change anyone. Living my faith before them, showing the love of MY Lord and Saviour is what I need to do.

Deborah said...

Hi Julia,
Just stopping by to say hello!