Was your faith at 28 any stronger than your faith at 8? Is it a growing faith or is it just holding on.
The Salvation Questions
Do you believe with your heart and confess with your mouth?
Those are questions that we ask when someone wants to be saved. At 8 years old I believed and I confessed. At that time I personally feel that I did believe that Jesus was the Son of God and that He lived, died, and rose again on the third day. I believed His death was to pay the penalty for my sins. It wasn’t until much later in life that I started to ask myself why I believed those things.
A Shared Experience
Many of us have the same story. We grew up in church. Our parents took us there almost every Sunday and our friends were there to. Then as we started getting older, around 7 or 8, one by one it started happening. It might have started with 1 getting saved at Summer Camp or Bible School and then another during Sunday School and another just a few months later during the invitation after the preacher’s sermon. One by one it seemed you and all your friends had gotten saved. Eventually you all followed that decision with baptism and life was good. You felt good being a Christian, you felt like you belonged. Everyone at church told you how proud they were of you and that made you feel good.
Looking back in my life I have often asked myself the question “why do I believe what I believe?” I have even written a little about it before but really why did I get saved at 8 years old in my backyard. I knew what heaven was and I knew about hell and I knew that being saved meant that I would not go to hell. For me at that time, that was all I needed to know. The idea of heaven and hell not being real had never crossed my mind. I had been raised in an environment where that was even a conceived idea. I believed in heaven and hell because I had been told by the people, I was closest to that they were real.
But what if they weren’t? What if I had been born somewhere else and been taught something completely different? As I got older the questions pressed on my mind more and more. These are things I never thought of when I was 8 years old. I just believed.
As a teenager my desire to serve God increased but I still never questioned any of these things. I believed the Bible and everything I had been told because it was the only option I had. Growing up in a church, right next door actually, in a Christian home, not believing was never really an option.
This is where the rubber meets the road for many young adults. It starts off slow but a trickle turns into a drip and a drip into a full on leak. We graduate high school and head off to college or the military in my case or head to work for some. The reality is that for many of us the first time we ever had the power to decide whether or not we were going to go to church was when we were 18 years old.
Lack of Growth
My faith at 28 was no deeper than my faith at 8. I still believed because I had been taught to believe. To be honest my faith at 8 might have even been deeper than at 28. At 18 I joined the Army and like many other 18-year-olds who were raised in church, I called myself a Christian but did not practice it regularly. I fell in with the wrong crowd, I did not attend church regularly, and when I did it was to keep up appearances. Still yet, I never wondered why?
As I grew older, I started to be surrounded by more and more people from different backgrounds and cultures. This is when I started to ask myself these questions. What if I was not born in America, what if my parents had not been Christians? What if all my friends had not gone to church? What if I had grown up where Christianity was not the leading religion?
I found it hard to share Jesus with the depth of my faith, even when I wanted to. You cannot really look at someone and say well I believe that Jesus is the one true God because the Bible said so, when they have a book that tells them something else. Why is the Bible any different? What makes Jesus any different? What makes Jesus real?
At 18 I answered a call to ministry in my life and looking back, I did so without even really knowing why I believed what I believed. I had to get out of my comfort zone and be surrounded by people who did not look, talk, act, or think like me to figure this out. Somewhere about the time of my first deployment (2003) I started thinking about these things. Really thinking about what life would have been like without being raised where I was. Would I have known Christ? Would I have been saved?
The Big What If?
What if God was not real? This question was one that was worse than all the rest. Even if I was not raised in a Christian home, I could have still been a Christian but what if it was all a lie? How could I know that God was real?
I started reading Strobel (Case for Christ) and McDowell (Questions that Demand a Verdict) and other skeptics turned believers and through all the evidence that pointed to Christ something was still missing. There had to be something else. Do not get me wrong, I am very appreciative for the journey these men were on and for them sharing their journey’s through their books but was it enough. Could we simply believe in God because the evidence points to Him.
Is It Enough?
All the evidence in the world can convince us that God is real but we must have a belief in God that is an experience and one that says if God is the Leader of my life then I will want to serve Him. So you can have all the evidence in the world and believe that God is God but until you choose to Serve Him is it enough?
I lived a lot of my life knowing that God was God but not in the sense that I believed in my heart and He was Lord of my entire life. I used my belief in Him when it benefited me but hid it when I was walking in the world.
Even the Devil Believes
In closing I will say this: We can all the evidence in the world that points to God as the creator of this world but still choose to not follow Him. The sense of believing with your heart is the sense of recognizing with everything that you are that He is Lord of your entire life and you will have a desire to serve Him. Even the devil believes in God. That statement tells gives us the realization that our belief has to be deeper than just a recognition of God’s position due to the evidence presented to us. The evidence is great when talking about the reliability of Scripture and showing how God can be proved in our world, but our faith has to depend on a personal relationship with Christ. No amount of evidence can ever replace that relationship.
So, in many ways my faith has grown since I was saved at 8 years old, but it did not happen overnight. If you want a deeper faith, then you have to dig. You must be willing to ask yourself difficult questions and examine the faith of your childhood.
Why Do You Believe? Leave a comment and let me know.