What I Have to Lose by Believing in Jesus
Believe in Jesus Christ, what do you have to lose?
Blessed Hill asked this question and further expanded on it by adding:
"If the bible is true, and it is, faith in Jesus Christ promises an abundant life now and for eternity. Jesus came to give us something not take something away. So what do you have to lose?"
You can find the question here.
Honestly; this question really feels like another of those attempts to figuratively slap us "non-believers" in the face. A "can't you see the truth?" question to atheists and little more. If Blessed Hill really wanted to find out what drives an atheist to disbelieve the bible, "and it is" would probably be left out, along with all major assumption in the question itself. It would probably read more like this: "If the bible is true, faith in Jesus Christ promises an abundant life now and for eternity: So what do you have to lose?" But it got me thinking, so here I am.
In order to answer this question I must first ask some clarifying questions. If you want the short version (i.e. a list of what I have to lose without my questions) scroll to the end. I'll expect you to have read the whole thing if you post a comment though. The list may leave you wondering what I'm talking about too, so I'd at least scroll back up after peeking. I'll keep it short.
Is the Bible Literal or Figurative?
"If the bible is true,"
Are we talking true as in the literal word, or are we talking in the figurative sense? In other words: Are we saying every word in the bible is truth, or more allegory to teach us by way of the mistakes or achievements of others? If we're going by literal word, there are some consistency issues to address. If we're going by figurative sense, we have some other questions regarding the meaning of the stories involved. There's a lot of wiggle room when some stories speak of slavery or torture as a good thing, and others as bad.
Which version? There are many different translations, and translations of translations. Since every translation is filtered through the understanding of the translator, it makes for some interesting changes. After that, the reader must interpret the text themselves. Many different religions spawn from those translations; and more still from interpretations of those translations. The split between Christianity and Judaism is just the beginning.
I'm not even talking about other religious writings or religions, just versions of the bible. Even using the same translation and version of the bible, there are many denominations that crop up. Just for an idea, here's a list of Christian denominations: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_denominations
To bring this part of the question to a close, let's go with the broadest possible idea I can come up with:
I'll assume hypothetically that the original source of the bible is true. Everything after that is the best interpretation of truth the translator could come up with, while being inspired by God himself. God having a hand in this translation to keep the truth alive for the newest generation.
"So what do you have to lose?"
I have to explain a little here. I used to be Christian. I followed doctrine, I went to church every Sunday. I stood and sang. I attended classes. I played sports with my neighbors. I planned my future around God and Christ. It was what I knew was right. Everything about life must involve a close relationship to God, Jesus, family, and my eternity in heaven. I'm not coming at this ignorant of religion. I'm not coming at this as someone who never believed. I'm looking at this aware of the feelings of love and acceptance related to being a believer and feeling God's love. I know what it is to fear God's wrath. I know how good it feels to be loved and protected by my creator.
When I was Christian I lived in fear. I didn't choose what I wanted to do based on my own needs, interests, or even moral standing. I chose based on what others (God, The Devil, clergy, and peers) thought. Because the religion wasn't about me, it was about my relationship with God. That of course was made clear by other people. People who knew more and had a closer connection to God through devotion and service to others. Believing the way I felt was right was shunned upon if it didn't align with someone else's interpretation of the gospel.
I looked down on those poor souls who didn't believe as I did. I didn't realize I looked down on them, I just "knew they were going to hell" and I "pitied" them. Unknowingly, I considered them less of a person. Less connected to God. Less of who they should be because they did not believe as I did.
I didn't believe because it felt right, I believed because it was what I was taught to believe in. I didn't question those beliefs because they were truth. I didn't question because those wiser than myself believed. I didn't question because others "knew the church was true." I didn't question because I was afraid of the consequences to my mortal soul. God's wrath. "What if those questions brought to light that my faith was false?" "What if my faith wasn't strong enough?" "What if somehow I had more doubt than belief?" "What if questioning made me believe less?" "What if I found truth somewhere else?" I learned not to question my view of the world. I learned not to question myself.
I looked forward to my life as a Christian and couldn't see a world outside that box. I couldn't see who I could be, just what kind of Christian I would be. I could see where within the priesthood I would be. How devoted to God I would be. What service I would provide the church.
Somewhere deep inside there was another me. Under the gospel. Under God. Under the fear. A part that could feel. With a full range of emotion. A part that wasn't whitewashed with plastic happiness. A part that wasn't defined by my value to a jealous, angry deity. The part I didn't know existed for a long time. That part valued me. That part valued my relationship to the world, people, and myself. That part was miserable. I was lying to myself the worst way possible by denying even looking at myself. I was miserable. I just couldn't see it.
Are You Christian?
The List: So What Do I Have to Lose?
- Respect for others
- Moral Fiber
- Free Will
- An Open Mind
- Self Respect
- Self Worth
These are all things I didn't have when I was Christian. Leaving that world behind helped me find them.