This life in faith is hard. It means looking yourself in the mirror, seeing your sin for what it is, repenting of that sin and believing Jesus redeems, forgives, renews, and heals. It means looking at the path ahead and knowing it's going to be riddled with tribulation and pain and hard decisions and broken families and lost friends and tears, so many tears... but knowing at the same time that the path leads to a life so much better than our best day here on earth.This narrow path I tread has been riddled. It hasn't been the joyous, light-hearted, easy, level road that some Christians tout and sell. It hasn't been all rainbows and unicorns.
From my December Newsletter
For me this faith has meant letting go of my controlling, spreadsheet-loving, rational self to trust in His Word alone, even though it doesn't always makes sense, and all the while knowing I will continue to fail to give up my old Adam tendency of trying to be my own God.
For me this faith has meant praying for family and friends, and hoping I'm wrong when I see their unbelief, praying the Holy Spirit has given or will give a flicker of faith - and that they will not reject it.
For me this faith has meant stepping away from friendships when differences in beliefs collide. It has meant choosing what I believe to be true over a friendship, trusting that nothing here on earth - even friendships - should be placed higher than Jesus and His Word.
For me this faith has meant being a member of some amazing and loving church families, yet also feeling lonely in the blog world where I often don't feel like I belong.
For me this faith has meant shedding tears - so many tears - over divisions. Created by man. Sometimes by me. Sometimes by others. Sometimes simply from misunderstandings. But these divisions have hurt all the same.
And while I had no choice or say on when or how I received my faith, and I have no part in my own justification - I do have a choice as to how I live this life of faith.
I could choose to set aside my beliefs, to weed out the supposed "minors" from the "majors", put a smile on my face and pretend I'm just like everyone else in the community. Ignore the differences in teaching. Brush aside the false Christianity I see.
But I tried that, and while I had friends who shared laughs and tears, friends who celebrated and mourned with me, I felt like a fraud. So I spoke up, opened up and shared. And while some loved and supported and continued to stand by me, agreeing to disagree and still be friends, others confronted me, insisting I was being too divisive and elitist, too close-minded, too judgmental.
American Christianity has been infiltrated by post-modern/universalist thinking. In the name of Christian unity we have done one of two things. We have either dumbed down our faith to the simplest of talking points so as never to offend anyone. Or we have agreed that despite differences in teaching, we are all right, all saved, and that our faith and beliefs are relative and subjective, and true for each of us.
(And while yes, I agree, none of us know it all for He simply hasn't revealed it all and won't until the end. God has revealed quite a lot in His Word, and for thousands of years people have studied it, learned it, and taught it.)
I have beliefs. I am firm in those beliefs. To believe means to "accept something as true". When my beliefs contradict someone else's - even if we are both Christians - yes, I think I am right and they are wrong. If I didn't think this way, how could I actually claim to believe what I do? It's not that I don't love the person, it simply means we disagree.
Sure I'd love for everyone to be a Lutheran, because I believe our confessions to be true to scripture. But I certainly don't think everyone must be a Lutheran to be a Christian. God's Word and the Holy Spirit surpass our man-made divisions, and even among the weeds and rocks, His Word can sow true faith. Even through our mucking up His teaching with our misunderstanding, His Word saves.
Feel what you wish about me. Think I'm an elitist. Believe I'm too close-minded. That's fine. My overly sensitive self will probably cry about it, and it will hurt, but in the end I will not deny my faith - my beliefs - for the sake of my earthly reputation.
While a life walked in blind faith is certainly not as easy as doing whatever I want and believing whatever makes me happy, I trust His Word which tells me this path - this hard and sometimes crappy and often lonely path - leads to life.