A Faith of My Own
A Faith of Your Own
There is a simple yet profound question I think that we have to ask ourselves often. “Why do you believe what you believe?” When it comes to everyday things the majority of our knowledge is based upon what our parents told us. We’re taught a variety of things in the public school system. Then there is the internet with the plethora of information out there on just about everything you can imagine.
When it comes to spiritual things it is much the same situation. Most likely as children if and when spiritual questions or topics come up parents gave their take and understanding on the matter. Even through modern media it is clear that people form beliefs and opinions based upon what they see on TV or read of in the papers.
Assuming that those parents or outlets are God-centered it is a blessing to have an up-bringing that provides teaching on those things. Maybe those parents or influences aren’t God-centered and the information given is incorrect or based merely on opinion.
There is a familiar passage in Ezekiel 18 that I tend to think of often when I think about that question. God gives a contrast of two men and their sons. Notice the conclusion of that illustration in v. 20. “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.”
In my own words that tells me that my faith must and WILL be my own. Even if I didn’t want it to, it’s still my own. Either my righteousness will be upon myself or my wickedness will be upon myself. There comes a time when I can no longer believe what I’ve been taught or heard merely because that’s what I’ve been taught or heard.
In Romans 14 Paul is talking about distinguishing between matters of personal judgment and doctrine. Both of those require personal study, prayer, and meditation on my part to make those decisions. He ends that chapter with “But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”
So, Why do you believe what you believe? It’s been my experience that we often criticize those in denominations for just following what their churches preach or what they claim in their creeds or doctrines and yet all the while don’t fully appreciate or understand why we worship and teach what we do.
First you could ask why do you worship the way you do? Why do you attend? Why don’t you attend every service? Why do you sing? Why don’t you use instruments? Why do you partake of the Lord’s Supper? Why every Lord’s Day? Why do you pray? Why don’t you pray? Why do you give? Why don’t you give?
Those are great places to start and understand but what about: “What is righteousness?” What is sin? What about judgment?” What about those weightier matters: Justice, Mercy, and Faithfulness? (Matt. 23:23) How do you figure those things out?
No doubt your mind has already gone to passages like “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Rom 10:17) and “They received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11)
I think that we easily understand these things on the surface but then practically misunderstand or apply them at the same time. Wherever you are at in your faith right now, strong or weak, you are there because you’ve chosen to be and if strong, you achieved that with time, study, prayer, and God’s grace.
Each one of us that are striving to mature in our faith and understanding have had to put what we’ve learned, been told and taught to the test. We’ve had to search God’s word ourselves and see if these things were so. Sometimes we find those things to be accurate. Other times we find them to be based upon something other than God’s word. And then it’s upon us to decide and have a faith of our own.
I want to encourage everyone to “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves…” (2 Cor 13:5) And I want to encourage everyone to remember that establishing your own faith is a process. A process of transitions in our understanding, maturity, and practical living. Our Father has shown us His steadfast love and patience and we need to show the same love and patience toward one another when others struggle with their faith. Out of love we deal with people where they are, not where we think they should be.
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” (1 Jn 4:11-12)