This is my third post in a series called “Letters For Christian Armour”.
Have you ever wondered why a belief in Jesus leads some to become a passionate Christian but not others?
Many people assume that believing in Jesus should immediately result in a changed life. Depending on the individual, it may. For many others, however, there is a gap between the moment of belief in Jesus as the Son of God and the experience of a truly transformed life. I was stuck in that gap for a long time. I want to make sure you understand why belief alone does not automatically translate to transformation.
I had believed in Jesus since I was a small child. But, as an adult, I always wondered why there were Christians who were much more excited about faith than I was. After all, we believed the same thing, right? We all believed that Jesus is the Son of God. However, I saw there was much more joy in that belief for some people.
Here is what I later came to understand:
It’s what you do with your belief that may or may not change your life. As the Bible says, even demons believe in God (James 2:19).
Every Christ-believer, consciously or not, must answer this question: I believe Jesus is the Son of God…now what?
The key to taking your belief and diving completely into a life that is really, truly all about Jesus is deciding what to do with your doubts. Take this to heart: If you really had no doubts about the veracity of your faith, you would be a whole lot more excited about it. That’s why many of us hover on the edge of the diving board, sometimes for years, unsure of what to do with our belief…and what to do with our doubts.
You have three choices.
1. You can decide you are exhausted from sitting on the edge of the diving board and choose to climb down. You can climb down to the safety of not having to deal with the uncertainties of faith and decide that you are turning your back on God because it’s just too hard to sit perched on that edge any longer. (If you choose this option, you need to realize that you are in effect going to climb onto another diving board with completely different questions that an atheist must face.)
2. You can decide to remain perched on the diving board, clinging to your belief in Jesus, but unwilling to stake your whole life on Him by actually diving in.
3. You can decide to surrender your faith barriers and finally make the dive. That is truly a decision because there will almost certainly never be a point when all of your faith barriers disappear on their own.
If you are sitting on the diving board and truly believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that may be a saving faith. However, not all believers in Christ experience the freeing faith that comes from the decision to make their entire life focused on Him.
So how much conviction does it take to make that dive?
For those of us who are not gifted in faith by nature, it really is necessary to amass a critical level of intellectual conviction first. There is nothing wrong with that; your heart will not feel what your mind cannot accept. The challenge is understanding that you can never collect enough “data” to satisfactorily answer all of your questions. Somewhere along the way you have to 1) accept that is the case and 2) decide that enough of your questions have been satisfactorily answered that you can make the dive.
It wasn’t until I really internalized that many questions will go unanswered that I knew I could no longer stay perched on the diving board. I saw that I either had to make my life all about the Jesus I claimed to believe in or climb down all together. Prolonged perching is spiritually exhausting.
Here’s what it looked like for me to take the plunge.
- I started giving priority to reading the Bible daily.
- I started praying not just when I needed something or wanted to thank God for something specific, but daily – making prayer about building relationship as opposed to serving an objective function.
- I realized how central sharing the Gospel should be to a Christian’s life and started opening up to people about my beliefs.
- I decided that going to church every Sunday – not just when I felt like getting out of bed – would be an integral part of my Christian life.
- I started treating my ongoing study of the Bible as a supplement to my conviction rather than looking for it to prove something to me. (Oh, what a difference that makes!)
- I started spending much more time with other believers in the capacity of serving and small groups.
- I stopped waiting for God to reveal himself to me in some miraculous, proof positive kind of way. He’s already revealed himself…through the Bible.
- I accepted that the existence of questions didn’t invalidate my faith, mean that I was weak, or suggest that there couldn’t be an objective truth.
- I started prioritizing the development of your faith over all else – because if I truly believe in what Jesus said, is there anything greater at stake than your souls?
If you are perching on the diving board when you read this letter someday, I’d like you to ask yourself this: Are you satisfied believing enough to “get yourself to heaven”? Or do you truly want to be made free through a changed life?
I desperately want you to experience the freedom that Jesus offers through knowing Him. I’m raising you to know the truth He gave us. But what I want you to know when you read this is that that truth may or may not set you free; it’s all about what you do with it.