by Theresa Lindsay
Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, wishing on a Falling Star (don’t believe I’ve ever seen one) all have one thing in common: we’ve all believed in them until maturity or reality burst our bubble. So what about God, His son Jesus the Christ, the Holy Spirit, Heaven, Hell, Satan—these depictions that had accompanying stories that affected my behavior until peers and my own curiosity dismissed them as perhaps more tall tales? Peers influenced me, curiosity and independence got the best of me, and now I’m back in church. What’s stopping me from making a mess of my life again?
The time comes in the life of a churchgoer when he or she must decide whether they’ll remain in that status or become a disciple, a follower and learner of Jesus Christ. It is the time when he or she will stop believing in God and believe God. There are three things we should have in order to make this transition, so that we can be led by the Spirit of God and not only witness His glory, but also accomplish the greater works of God in our time.
The first thing you must have to believe God is an Experience with Him. Saul persecuted all those who followed the “heretical” teachings of Jesus, until Christ revealed himself to Saul on the Damascus Road. Saul was blinded during that encounter by the light that was upon him, and he heard Jesus ask him why Saul was persecuting him. Through this experience Saul, who received the name of Paul and was empowered by the Holy Spirit to teach and establish order in the Church, declared that although he was never in the company of Jesus’ twelve disciples, he “worked harder than any of them.” (I Corinthians 15:8-10, NRSV) Had it not been for this personal encounter, we would not have his letters of testimony, many of which were selected for the canon of our Bible (but when I meet Paul in Heaven, I’m sure I won’t be the first to tell him how difficult he made it for women in ministry because of I Timothy 2:12).
If we’re just sitting in the pew and the teachings of the Bible have never been practiced, if we’re praying and never hear the voice of the Holy Spirit directing or selecting us to be of service, or correcting us when we’re wrong, then perhaps you’re just going along with what the preacher says. God wants us to take what the preacher declares and receive it as the Word of God and do what He says do. When we see that some of our prayers are being answered, no matter how small or great; when you endure seasons of adversity until peace is restored (and sometimes peaceful co-existence), when temptations are presented that are a quick fix to something you know God wants you to develop patience so you know that He can work things out through you or for you, then you can say with assurance that “I know that God can because He did it for me.” We can’t say we know God based on someone else’s experience; He wants each of His children to know Him for themselves.
The next thing we need to do to show God that we believe Him is Expression. This is when we delight in worshipping and praising God whether corporately or privately. Many people aren’t comfortable with Christians who are “demonstrative”. Yet there are Psalms that instruct the readers to shout, clap, leap, dance, play instruments skillfully—all these commands allow us to express our adoration to the One we are in relationship with, who “inhabits the praises of His people” (Psalm 22:3). When believers praise, we reflect with gratitude on the goodness of God in our lives; we also anticipate with excitement our future victories and blessings. As we enter worship, it is an intimate time of showing love and adoration to God for who He is, not because of what He’s done.
Finally, there should be some Evidence that we are Christ followers. As Jesus was being tried for his “crimes”, Peter was repeatedly called out as being one of his disciples. Finally a woman told him that even his “accent betray(ed)” him (Matthew 26:73). One cannot be an authentic Christian and not have some of Jesus’ attributes. There was a theme song to a popular televangelist’s program which the lyrics were (to the best of my recollection),
“Evidence, evidence, do you have the evidence?
Evidence, evidence, can they put you away?
Evidence, evidence, what does your life say?”
Are the virtues of Christ obvious in your life? Do others notice that “something different” about you? Are His sayings your sayings? Are your actions and decisions based on the teachings and commandments of the One who has called and ordained you? If so you have the basic essentials that are needed in order to understand “the breadth and length and height and depth (of Christ).” Having these three elements allows us to be genuinely joined and committed to God and not just “dating” Him until the next thrilling thing comes along.