Faith: One Size Fits All?
What is Faith?
According to Hebrews 11:1, faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Simply put, it is wrapped around what we expect to happen one day (in reaching heaven and witnessing Jesus’ return to earth) without having been eye witness to all that was recorded in the Bible. It also is believing that the Bible is the spoken word of God.
Very often, we hold to a certain set of biblical (and non-biblical) beliefs because they are passed down in some form – through family, culture, and influence from others to whom we are connected. Such beliefs are the basis for our words and decisions. But do they remain the same...or can they change? Is change bad? And who determines that?
Faith is Relative
Ultimately, faith is relative. The closer you are to God, the more your definition of faith expands. On that point alone, faith is conditional on your ability to increase in knowledge. As they say, "the more you know, the more you grow." So as humans, the more we read, discuss, and live - all those things impact who we are and how we see the Lord and connect with Him. That's why people can go from non-believers, to believers, and back to non-believers in a heartbeat, in the same way humans connect or grow apart from each other. So how can we fault change, when without it, we wouldn't be able to mature? Change is better than stagnation.
Sometimes change means the rise of new denominations (even among families), the expressions of which can vary greatly, even if all of them "believe" in God's existence. As much as faith is all-encompassing, it is also very much an individual mindset, easily causing conflict between those who disagree on how it should be conducted. We are inherently of a pack or clan mentality, where we want to be part of a group for the purpose of bonding and affirmation, and will continue seeking out others with whom we agree. However, that connection we seek can become faulty, because it then leads to the problem of being "more right" than the next person (or group). Justification, followed by hostility and indifference then take over households, churches, neighborhoods, and entire communities.
With all that fighting, it's no wonder why people often choose to take the stance of not believing (although their unbelief IS still a belief) because all they see are a bunch of rules that must be followed, and a whole lot of finger pointing when they don't. When a personal connection to the Lord is absent, faith imply can't be expected to exist.
To Thine Own Self Be True
While differences are a part of life, and sometimes we have to agree to disagree, having a personal relationship with God requires a complete trust in His will for your life. If you are stifled and unable to grow in your relationship with the Lord, it may mean your growth now requires a change in what you were previously doing to express your faith or how you used to worship. It can even mean walking away from people you were once close to, for the sake of what you believe.
Are you seeking a new church home? If so, the Lord will lead you to where He wants you to be...but first, seek Him in all things and wherever you go. Remember that wherever two or more are gathered, the Lord is in their midst. When visiting a church, see how well it lines up with what you've learned in your walk, and remain open, while pondering these questions:
- Do you feel validated in your faith?
- How well do you connect with the church body?
- Are you encouraged to draw closer to Christ through the music and message?
- What community outreaches exist that match your strengths and interests?
Ultimately, you'll know you are in the right place when the church and its people enable you to grow closer to the Lord and the needs of the community.
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