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Today I want to open up a pondering like no other.
It’s a pondering that can often be difficult because no one seems to want to talk about it.
Many Christians will skirt around these topics and tend to avoid it at all cost.
This…is just the tip of the iceberg, and perhaps a book ought to be written about it (hmmm perhaps I will).
I’m tired of ducking this conversation, pretending as if everything is fine and we never struggle at all.
I’m tired of pretending to be something we’re not…humanly perfect in every way, shape and form.
If we, as an Army, want to move on, if we want to progress forward – we have to talk about the topics we often shy away from.
Let’s start today:
5 Difficult Questions That Most Christians Will Avoid:
- Doubt (Is God Even Real?)
What do we call the Apostle Thomas? That’s right, “Doubting Thomas“. Why? Because he dared to expose the fact that he had doubts and he questioned the testimony of others. He finally gets his wish, Jesus shows him his nail pierced hands, feet and stab-wounded side and Thomas believes. Is it a sin to doubt? No. Is it a sin to question? Absolutely not.Let’s dispel that myth today about doubting. We ought to be asking all sorts of questions about God, about the Bible, about life. It’s not a sin to be inquisitive and demand more proof. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 even says to “test everything and hold onto what is good.” So let me relieve some guilt in some of you today, it’s okay to have your doubts from time to time. Pray about those doubts. Ask God for some further evidence, and/or for Him to reveal Himself to you. I do not believe the time for Godly revelation has passed. If we doubt, then seek out the answers. Don’t settle for simple answers of merely “having faith”…push back and test these things for yourself. Faith isn’t about believing what your parents or grandparents believe…it’s not familial in that way, it ought to also be a personal ideology of belief. If we do not have a foundation there, then we really don’t have a lasting foundation at all.So News Flash, don’t beat yourself up over the fact that you encounter doubts in your life. Sometimes within those moments of doubting we begin to seek out the answers on a deeper level, and we begin to get serious about establishing a personalized faith that lacks any of the frilly phrases and meaningless jargon we sometimes find in Church.
- Sexuality (Pornography and other addictions)
Sometimes questions about sexuality and specific sexual addictions are swept under the rug in the church and family. It’s never talked about, and so it becomes this type of “hush, hush” conversation.We are sexual creatures, God has created us this way. Sex is good. (yes I said it, SEX IS GOOD!)
It is for creating offspring but it is also for our enjoyment. The problem, though is that we never talk about pornography and sexual addictions which isn’t only prolific within culture, but it is prolific even in the church. This is an often unspoken, private struggle, and rightly so, but we ought to recognize that the Church should be a source of honest, candidness when it comes to struggles and temptations of the sexual nature.I do recognize that addictions of any kind ought to be treated by professionals, but that doesn’t negate the responsibility of the Church (and we as an Army) to have honest conversations about its real existence among our ranks. It does exist. It is a real struggle for many, and we cannot simply cover it up and pretend it doesn’t effect us. I believe that if we are honest, this type of temptation is more prolific that we give it credit for. It doesn’t even have to be pornographic images from adult websites either, it can be things we have seen on television or read in the pages of books.
Sex is good, but we need to confront the marring of these important displays of affection by the sin nature and the distortion of sexual reality that pornographic addiction provides to our culture and to church. We cannot simply pretend it doesn’t exist and close our eyes to its existence.
- If I work harder, will I become perfect? (Works+Success=Spiritual Crowns)
–The Desire To Be Perfect By Outcome based performances –
If I just sing “O Boundless Salvation” well enough…
If I just wear my uniform better…
If I do more around the corps and show others how good I can be…
If I play in the band every Sunday…
Don’t get me wrong, these are great things to do within our corps and our ministries, but if we believe that doing all of these things in the right order will win us crowns, and that’s all we’re doing it for, then we’re sorely mistaken.Sometimes I fear that we have this notion that doing STUFF will make us successful in the Kingdom of God. We tend to believe: All that this Army is really about is adding more to the ranks. -False.
All that we do is good works so others will pat us on the backs. -False again.
We cannot become humanly perfect…that isn’t our goal.
The Pharisees even wished to impose this on the Jews in their day, and they themselves were merely law enforcers but not law abiders. Holiness is not the same thing as human perfection. When God says to us “Be holy as I am holy” what did He mean? Is holiness about doing STUFF? No! We have to first believe and have faith before the outpouring of evidence (Works/Stuff) can be seen.So stop stressing over wearing your uniform better, or performing at a better level…these things might be important at some point, but God first looks at your heart…so how is your heart?
- Is This Authentic, am I Realistic?
(putting on the “Christian coat”)
Layered on top of all of this is the “Christian Coat”.
It’s what we do to pretend everything is okay.
It’s for appearances. It’s for other people to see. It’s a facade. It’s not real. We sometimes think to ourselves, if my Corps Officer or Divisional Officer or Pastor could see how it really is at home, they would be horrified.
We have this concept in our minds that we must act a certain way in church in order to “look the part”. The sad thing is – it’s all fake, and what we’re really doing is holding true fellowship and authenticity at arms length. We aren’t really allowing others to see how it really is with us. We wear masks, we pretend everything is normal and holy at home, when it’s anything but normal and holy.Are we embarrassed?
Are we afraid our fellow Christian brothers and sisters will judge us? -Yes. I’m no fool in this either, I know how cruel other Christians can be…and it really ought not be that way. We put up these barriers and wear masks because we’re afraid how we will really be treated if others knew how it really was with us. So we wear the tunic…we put on the Christian coat…but it’s all surfaced, it’s all phony.Listen, forget what those judgey Christians are going to think.
Who are you going to honor in your authentic faith – Man or God?
In the long run who matters most? It’s a crying shame that we have to protect ourselves from other “Christians”, but maybe if we started to take off these masks and these “Christian coats” true revival and true fellowship will once again take place. Sometimes the best way to get rid of fake, judgmental “Christians” is to be real and honest and genuine. So, take off that coat.
- What Do I Do When My Family Implodes?
Lastly today, what do I do when my family implodes…believe it or not Christian families struggle just as much with rebellion and issues as non-Christians families. We sometimes have this false notion that just because our families go to church we will be insulated from some of these issues. Guess what? They still exist. They still can effect our families. We get so embarrassed about how other Salvationists, how other Christians will react if they only knew we’re barely surviving at home…Can I be honest with you? Families do implode from time to time. Families will not always agree from time to time. It might be a full out battle once in a while (and some of you are saying “once in a while, try all the time!)…I think if we go back to being authentic and real, and vulnerable with one another, we would find that there would be more common ground that we ever realized. Sure, there will be the occasional sour, judgmental church goer who is more pharisee than Christian, but we would also find other authentic believers who just want someone to listen to their heartaches and the pain they are going through with their kids and/or families.I dare you to take a risk and to share your burdens with other believers…but choose wisely, find believers who will listen, who will love, and who will challenge you for the good.
These are just five difficult questions to ponder today…many times we’d like to shy away from such discourse, but I believe it’s vital to ask the question and to find the answers when they can be found.
Do you have feedback or questions of your own? We welcome your comments and questions. Let’s dialogue together a little longer on this subject.
Something more to ponder today!
To God be the glory!
Special thanks to my wife, Shanais Strissel who helps me clarify and inspires me in these ponderings!
Yikes! Stepping on some toes here. But in our humanity, the ‘untouchables’ you include today are front and center for the Christian, as well. Funny, but (in my opinion) it has seemed as if not talking about these things = they don’t exist in our fellowships. Encouraging to see in growing numbers, the dialogue begins!
Could I comment on the Doubting Thomas thing? As far as I see it, he wasn’t ‘doubting’ he was actually vocally and vehemently refusing to believe. It was a rebellious lack of belief, not a struggle to have faith, like many of us have.
Maybe Thomas was a deep believer. because he was willing and not afraid to ask questions. This willingness is as I see it an act of faith we can learn from for he comes to a deeper understanding and one of the first, or the first, who comes to a creed. It’s not only Thomas who dares the ask the questions. It’s also Abraham and Moses and in a way ‘my name is Legion’ and the syro fenician woman who dared to ask questions in recognition who Jesus is; He is Lord. I love Peter for as he tried to walk on water at the end had to run trough it. I admire Thomas for not taking anything for granted and act on it.
Very true Richard!