I have talked with many Christians over the last few years, and there is an interesting theme that I have found in some of them. They will easily tell me “I know the Bible is true, no doubt about it”, yet they don’t or rarely read the Bible, they maybe go to church every once in a while but are not involved, and to the outside observer, you’d never guess they were a Christian. This post is an in-process thought exploration on this topic:
How can this be? The beliefs in Christianity, and the effect of faith and belief in it, are extremely radical. One could not ask for a better and more undeserved gift. And, it could not be clearer that its followers are to be in the world, but not of the world, to go out and make disciples, to treat others as you want to be treated, to give to the poor and help the needy, etc. How can having no doubt in these things, and fully believing in them, result in little to no effect on one’s life?
There has got to be more to the equation than this. No doubt does not equal no effect, unless accompanied by other factors. Here are some examples that could possibly make more sense:
- No doubt + just don’t care about it
- The people who say they don’t doubt any of it lie to themselves, and they truly don’t fully believe it
- The substance and knowledge of what they think they have no doubt in is not complete, and they really don’t even know what they are talking about by saying they have no doubt in the Bible
For the first two examples above, I believe that often it is an honestly issue. They hide the truth from others, and sometimes themselves, and the last thing they would want to admit is that they don’t really care about it, or that they might not believe, or struggle with belief. They think it will make them look bad, or like a failure. The Christian community can sometimes be very much a place where the joy-filled are welcome, and the strugglers and unbelievers are like aliens. You tell someone the truth about how you feel and you get the deer in the headlights look. People don’t know how to handle you, or what to say! The awkward advice you might get sounds something like “well, you just need to read the Bible and pray…” and “I’ll pray for you”. Honesty is not encouraged. I was very much the second example for a long, long time.
The third example is a result of today’s modern shallow churches, giving messages that are far more filled with humor and stories than Bible teaching. I remember hearing the pastor of a large church (multi-campus, thousands of attenders) saying that if you do not make your audience laugh, you’ve failed to connect with them. Bible reading, study, and discussion are not encouraged. Instead, modern Christian books that talk about the power of positive thinking are read while the Bible sits on the shelf. See where I’m going here? Without the knowledge and study of the Bible, how can you really know the substance and the meaning behind what you are saying you believe? If the Bible is “God’s Word”, why is it so heavily neglected?
In conclusion, I think there are two huge things that are lacking in the Christian community: 1. Honesty with themselves and others about the state of their belief, issues, and sin. 2. Having the passion and diligence to study the Bible – the book that defines and informs a Christian’s beliefs and purpose. These are two things I did not have before, and I can now looking back, if I come back to Christianity, I would not do without.
What are your thoughts?