Overcome Confusion to Find True Belief
- Monday, March 10, 2008
Editor's Note: The following is a report on helpful applications of i want to believe: finding your way in an age of many faiths by Mel Lawrenz (Regal Books). [Compiled by Whitney Hopler, Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer].
So many contradictory worldviews swirl around you in our culture today that it's easy to become confused. Here's how you can overcome confusion to find true belief:
Go beyond wishful thinking. The desire to believe is a real and powerful drive that can carry you either into a genuine relationship with God or dangerous fantasies and delusions that you invent. Instead of just believing whatever you want to believe, get serious about discovering the truth of who God is and how to best relate to Him. Pray for the discernment you need to explore faith. Ask God to reveal Himself to you and to help you truly seek Him.
See the spiritual working with the physical. God has set eternity in your heart, giving you the ability to connect with the spiritual realm while living in the physical one. Live with your eyes wide open to the ways these two realities work together in your everyday life. Make a point of looking for God at work, and you'll notice Him all around you.
Deal with uncertainty. Expect to encounter uncertainty as you search for real faith. Instead of ignoring the uncertainty you feel, let it motivate you to explore faith in fresh ways. Be honest about your struggles and humble about what you already know so you can move toward an authentic faith. Invite God to meet you in the midst of your uncertainty and help you learn more and more.
Deal with doubts. Don't be afraid to honestly face your doubts. If you let your doubts motivate you to ask questions honestly and humbly. God isn't offended by sincere questioning; in fact, He welcomes it. Remember that you don't have to have all of life's questions figured out today. You just need to take whatever steps of faith you can take, and as you do, you'll discover more faith. God will give you everything you need, whenever you need it.
Recognize that there's only one right way to God. As politically correct as it may be to think of all religions leading to God in their own ways, the truth remains that there's only one way that actually connects to Him - through Christ. Get to know the tenets of other religions like Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and pagan and new age beliefs. But be sure to note that, while some general moral and ethical principles overlap with biblical ones, each religion is significantly different. It makes no sense to try to blend different religions because they ultimately contradict each other. Trust in Jesus' revelation that He is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one comes to the Father except through Him. Discover and study the abundant evidence for His divinity. Then give your allegiance wholeheartedly to Him. It's not arrogant to say you're certain about what you believe, as long as you're motivated by a search for truth rather than a desire to gain power over others.
Look beyond yourself. Atheism says that the self is the highest and holiest reality, but if you ask God to you the perspective you need to see beyond your own life into the bigger reality of which you're a part, you'll start to notice Him at work all around you.
Move from changed behavior to inner transformation. God wants to do much more in your life than just get you to conform to good moral behavior. He wants to transform your whole soul from the inside out--changing your desires and motivations. It's His plan to change every believer into the likeness of Jesus (romans 12:1-2).
Move from religion to relationship. Faith isn't just a matter of believing the right doctrines or performing the right rituals or service. Faith is about connecting to the living God in a dynamic relationship, which is only possible through Jesus. Real faith flows across the boundaries of time and space, uniting people to God from every generation and every culture on earth. Focus on what matters most in developing a relationship with God: the question of who Jesus really is.
Discover the truth about Jesus. Face the reality that you (like every other human being) must deal with who Jesus actually is. Realize that He can't possibly be just a great moral teacher who once lived, because -- unlike other major religious figures like Muhammad and Buddha -- He claimed to be God. Only three possibilities exist for who He is: Either He's an evil spirit who lied, He's a dead man now who was crazy while He was alive (which would also mean that all His followers were delusional), or He truly is god in the flesh.
Consider the creed. Think and pray about the Christian faith's core beliefs as expressed in the Apostle's Creed: God is our Father. He made heaven and earth. Jesus Christ is His only Son and our Lord. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered, died on the cross, was buried, and rose to life again. Now He lives in heaven with God, ready to judge all of humanity. The faithful believe in the Holy Spirit, the universal church, the eternal bond between saints both living and dead, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection, and everlasting life. Considering the creed shifts your focus from yourself to God and helps you sharpen your beliefs.
Get rid of excuses. Whatever excuses are keeping you from committing to true faith, admit them to God and pray for His help to overcome them. Don't hold back from God any longer. Be willing to act on your desire to believe, even if you still have doubt or unanswered questions. Trust God enough to move toward Him as much as you can, and expect Him to meet you there.
Keep growing. As your faith increases and deepens, keep your eyes open, your mind discerning, your conscience soft, and your spirit alert for all the new things God wants to teach you every day.
Adapted from i want to believe: finding your way in an age of many faiths, 2007 by Mel Lawrenz. Published by Regal Books, a division of Gospel Light, Ventura, Ca., www.regalbooks.com.
mel lawrenz (M. Div., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Ph.D., historical theology, Marquette University) has been a pastor at Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin for over 25 years. Mel has a passion for the ministry of the Word in writing for effective outreach both nationally and internationally, is author or coauthor of seven books and has been developing a multidimensional media ministry network, which includes his radio interview program, Faith Conversations. For more information, visit his website, http://www.wordway.org/.
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