Sunday, May 4, 2008

Do you have second hand faith?

Today Bro. Joe preached at our church and his message was fabulous as always. It also happened to confirm something that has been brewing and stewing in my heart and mind for six years or so. It's always encouraging when you feel like you've heard something from God and then the preacher says it in the pulpit, that way you feel like it was actually God revealing something to you and you not just listening to the pastor...except he does use the pastor so I don't know what I mean but I just mean sometimes I think I plant thoughts in my own head and say they're from God so this time I knew I couldn't use that excuse. :-)

He talked about a problem that I've seen so very evident not only in my life, but in my church's young people and those in the homeschool group that we've been apart of for many years. Bro. Joe called it "second hand faith" which is a perfect name for it although I didn't know what to call it when I first mulled it over in my head. When I was sixteen and on my first mission trip out of the country, I felt as though I was tested for the first time on why I believe what I believe. Sadly enough I didn't know as much as I felt like I should have given the wonderful upbringing I had and all of the good teaching I had been exposed to. What that trip taught me was that my spiritual life was based on that of my parents, that I believed whatever they believed simply because they believed it (so it must be true!). Sometimes the world will try to tell you this is not a good thing but for the wrong reason. They will tell you that you need to think for yourself and just because your parents have antiquated ideas doesn't mean you have to as well. Well I agree with the first half--we should think for ourselves. But the second half of that would be that we should know in our own hearts why we believe what we believe.

Since that trip I have felt a lot more confidence in my spiritual walk knowing that I have a relationship with God and what I believe is between us. If I have something wrong then He can deal with me and nobody else is to blame for any strange ideas that might should pop into my head. I am not saying that our parents aren't used to teach us these truths but at some point you have to take those truths for yourself. They have to become yours. When someone asks you why you don't ______ (fill in the blank) you should say "Because I believe ______". Not "Because my parents said _____". This is not to say that you will have a different opinion from your parents but that you will have it settled in your heart for yourself that yes this is the way, walk ye in it.

For an example a friend asked me not long ago why I didn't drink. I have heard so many arguments about why a Christian shouldn't drink it isn't funny. Most of these arguments though revolve around my body being the temple of the Holy Ghost and have nothing whatsoever to do with a scripture verse saying "thou shalt not drink". In fact there are numerous references to wine in the scriptures and not all of them are bad. I told her that for myself I had decided never to drink because I knew there was a weakness in my family history towards excess in alchohol and because of that it would be better for me to not have any at all than to start something I might fall with. She was very understanding of this argument and possibly a little surprised as she is from the same homeschool group I am. :-) I'm sure she expected the traditional arguments against it and had been doing some discussion for a school class about the idea I believe. This is not intended to set off any debates on whether or not it is okay to drink but just to give you an idea of something that I had to decide for myself. If I were still telling other people that I didn't drink because my parents didn't want me to I'd be laughed at. Who thinks it's cute that a twenty-two year old doesn't know what she believes on a subject? No one.

I believe that the things our parents teach us are the building blocks we can use to build our spiritual foundation. They supply us with all the needed equipment and supplies but we have to actually form that foundation on our own and begin that relationship with God. If we fail to use the things they gave us to actually build the foundation, when the first storm comes we will be washed away. You can't rely on what your parents believe forever. For one thing, they won't always be there and secondly at some point you will be married or otherwise physically separated from them.

As Bro. Joe pointed out it is quite possible to become saved on second hand faith. After all, all of us probably were saved because of someone's testimony or sharing the gospel with us. Very few people have a Saul experience in which Christ comes directly to them. The next step however is building that foundation. If you fail to transfer that second hand faith into a personal relationship with God then the second the person who maybe shared the gospel with you stumbles, you could stumble as well. Think of how many high profile men of God have fallen into sin. Satan wants this because it will cause many others to question their faith because it has been based off of someone else's walk with the Lord. If you have that personal relationship then you will know no matter what happens to everyone else around me, I know where I stand with God and what He wants me to do.

Thinking on these thoughts it is easy to see how many young people in our homeschool group have washed away. They haven't gone on with the Lord because maybe they discovered their father was human and sinned and it shattered their "faith". They probably went through the whole "well that's it the whole church is a hypocrite and this is all fake anyway" and decided what was the point? This is not always what happens but I am sure it happens a lot more than you would think. In recent years I have heard of so many great men and women of God who have fallen into sin. If my faith was based on seeing these people with their great walks and then I suddenly realized they were deep into some horrible sin it could totally throw me off my walk. But because I have transferred my second hand faith into a personal relationship with Christ I have that rock, that foundation to go on because He is always the same. People change, even those nearest and dearest to you but God never changes.


Erin said...

Great thoughts. I really enjoyed reading and you're right, I think so many young people struggle with this very thing and it can be so dangerous....especially when it doesn't matter what "Mommy & Daddy" say anymore and they were the only reason for doing the right thing. JESUS must be our accountability. Sigh. Anyway, good job!! :-)