You probably have questions about things that have to do with Christianity. Believe me. I relate. I pretty much was the Queen of Questions.
I went to church and youth group every week in middle school and high school. I had accepted Jesus as my Savior and was a believer. I don't remember having too many questions at that point in my life.
After college I married and my husband and I were too busy going out all the time and well, spiritual matters hardly ever entered my mind. We had no interest in attending a church and only went at Christmas and Easter when we went home to visit our families.
Fast forward a few more years and we have kids. I decide the kids need some "religion." I'd make everyone get all dressed up and drag them to church. The kids dozed or doodled on the program. Actually my husband did too, ha ha. But I sat there and listened intently to the minister – critiquing everything he said, trying to figure out his point, questioning it all. It wasn't that I didn't believe; it was more that I didn't quite get what the minister was saying. Heaven/hell, angels/demons, sin/ righteousness, justification/sanctification, the kingdom of God, inheritance,... It was like learning a whole new vocabulary! I think the minister assumed we all had some level of understanding of the basic concepts of Christianity. But I would sit there and wonder why he said things he did and well, just not fully get it. I kept trying to figure it out.
I was invited to a new church where I heard things put so clearly that it only piqued my interest more. With each aspect of Christianity explained it seemed to lead to more questions. I would sit in church or in a small group or in a class and someone would say something and I would think, ‘Why are they saying that? What does it mean? Am I supposed to believe that?' I didn’t buy everything I was hearing. It didn’t matter to me that a minister said it. Or the leader of a group. Or the teacher of a class. I still questioned whether it was true.
I think even then that I knew a faith based on what other people were telling me wasn’t good enough. What if they were wrong? Just because they believed it didn't mean I should automatically accept it. This was too important to get wrong.
The questions started coming. And as each question came I would seek out the answer.
Does God really hear and answer my prayers?
Does it matter if just I pray for something or if 5000 people pray for the same thing?
Do animals go to heaven?
Can someone who commits suicide go to heaven?
How do I know if something is God's will or not?
How can God be three Persons at the same time?
How do I know for sure that Jesus really was resurrected?
What does this Jesus as my "Lord" thing mean? Does it mean I can't drink alcohol? How is that different than just accepting Jesus as my Savior?
Who is the Holy Spirit?
Are there such things as ghosts?
How do I know the Bible is true?
Is Christianity the only way to heaven?
Does God get angry with me when I sin?
Did Jesus establish the church?
What is the church?
Am I required to tithe?
Is hell real?
What about heaven, what do we know about it?
Do people become angels when they die?
Why some places in the Bible did the children and animals have to die too? Why would a loving God do that?
Is God’s grace really real? (It just seemed too good to be true.)
Is the Bible really God’s Word?
Am I really saved?
Just some of my many, many, many questions!
I became friends with a few mature Christians who were willing to answer me when I asked them a question. And I know my question after question must have been irritating to them at times. I can send the lonnngggest emails. I know people say, "There are no dumb questions." Well, based on the looks I would get from some people, that must not be true. Ha. I asked my share of "dumb" questions! But these few people I had found were willing to take the time to help me find answers. I can name them. I appreciate what they did. They mentored me. If they didn’t know the answer, they would point me in the right direction. They were willing to discuss spiritual things with me. That was HUGE! I went to church every week to learn more. I signed up for Bible classes and studies. I belonged to a small group. I bought so many Christian books and I read and I read.
And then I had a God moment. It truly was. I was at The Cove in Asheville walking on a trail to the chapel. I was by myself. I'm walking along and out of the blue God told me to "Read the Bible." It was clearly Him and He repeated it over and over in my mind for days (at the weirdest times I might add.) Up until then I had been reading bits and pieces that had to do with the Bible study I was doing or the question I was trying to answer. But I hadn’t read the whole thing.
And so I read it.
I can’t even begin to put into words what this meant to my life! It was as if suddenly everything I had been questioning and researching all came together. I understood! I got it! It has literally transformed me - how I think, how I act, how I process things. Gone are the doubts I had about some of the Christian doctrines. Looking back it was the entire spiritual journey I went on that changed me, but it was reading the Bible which really clinched it for me. Was I a Christian before I read the Bible? I was. Did I really know why I believed what I believed? Sort of, but not like I do now. I’m smiling as I type that.
I regret that it took me so long to begin searching for answers. I wasted a large portion of my life being an Occasional Christian. I also regret I never really trained my children. They were older when I started this searching. They went to church and youth group, but I had done those things too and still didn’t really understand what I do now. We didn’t talk about spiritual things in our home. They never really were taught why we believe the essentials of the Christian faith. Now on the rare occasion when my son asks me a spiritual question, he gets my full attention and enthusiasm.
My question-asking has made me sympathetic and supportive of those who are seeking for answers. I'm not condescending to them. For me there really is no dumb question.
I’m more than a little upset with the churches I grew up in and when I first started going back to church. Why didn’t they ever teach the basics? We’d go to church and hear the stories in the Bible – David and Goliath/ Adam and Eve/ Jesus and the Sermon on the Mount/ Noah/ Jesus walking on water… But I somehow didn’t connect it all. When I started learning that the Bible was reliable and that the Old Testament and New Testament go together and all the other things I’ve learned; I am like, 'Why was this never taught to me?!' I didn’t know what I didn’t know until I knew it. And there was a lot I didn’t know! (I continue to learn on a deeper level. But the basics I have down now.)
I teach basic information on the Bible (organization and historical eras and key words) and my students always seem surprised to learn it. For whatever reason, there is a large percentage of Christians who don’t know the basics. And our young people – they go off to college and some professor or new friend who seems like they know what they are talking about says, "The Bible isn’t true." That "Christianity is a lie." That "God doesn’t exist." And because they don’t know the basics to stand firm in their faith, they are easily swayed. Doubts set in and Satan gets a foothold in their lives. Statistics show we have lost a large segment of my generation and are rapidly losing the next generation. We need to equip people because the world is going to mock and attack their beliefs. Satan chips away one experience at a time. We are failing miserably at the teaching part of Christianity. (I’m making a general statement here. Your church may be a teaching church.)
You don’t have a question that hasn’t been asked before. Seriously. But you have to be purposeful about looking for the answer. Don’t be content going along with the status quo. Don’t be like that with your faith! Just because someone says something doesn’t make it true. Think. Be intelligent. Know why you believe what you believe. I see posts all the time on Facebook from Christians about “send good vibes/ good thoughts/ good karma.” That is what you believe in? The good thoughts of another person will make a difference in your circumstances? That is what will sustain you when push comes to shove? Do you really believe that? Think!
Christianity will stand up to any amount of scrutiny.
A question without an answer won’t get you anywhere. A faith without deep roots can easily be swept away when the first major storm comes. You don’t have to check your brain at the door before you enter church. This world needs intelligent Christians – people who know why they believe what they believe and can share it with others.
Begin by asking God to bring you the answers and continue by opening your Bible.