At some point in our lives this question crosses our minds, “Is this the right religion?” How would you even know if you’re serving the right God? There’s a lot of them now, lest we forget the multitude of cultures that came and went, like the gods of Greek and Norse (viking) mythology.
We’re all lost at some point
One day, I was in a grocery store, standing in line to weigh some vegetables. An older woman in front of me, turned around, glanced at me, then turned away. I noticed and thought it was a little odd. I brushed it off as people often tell me that I look familiar. Anyway, she whips around and tells me Jesus loves me. With a smug smile I responded,
“Aunty, I was born a Christian”, without missing a beat, she fired back, “Just because you were born in a garage, doesn’t make you a car.” I had to admit, that old bird got me. She’s right though, I was brought up in a Christian home and went to Church on Sundays. There was a time when we used to attend 2 to 3 services on a Sunday because my father preached at different churches. However, despite all of this saturation in church life, I was only truly saved in my early 20s.
In fact, I was so lost that around 2004, I used to drive recklessly, hoping that if I survived the accident it would be proof that there’s a reason for me being here. It’s not something I’m proud off, I’ll chalk that up to being young and stupid on an epic scale.
Your spiritual growth is a journey. We all start out a little lost.
Question with Caution
In my teens, I came home one day and asked the question to my parents. My father (a pastor) was unperturbed by my question and told me it was natural to question the beliefs that we were taught. He had gone through that process himself and converted. My mother on the other hand was not impressed and sent me to my room to pray. I guess to repent for my sinful thoughts. She also went through this process and converted to Christianity. I suppose she expected us to never question it since they had already gone through this process.
Truth be told, my mother’s reaction is more understandable. You’re not questioning a set of rules, you’re questioning the very foundation of your beliefs and outlook of the world. Your parents, irrespective of their religious background gave you their best answer to “Why are we here?” so forgive them for getting a little hot under the collar by questions.
Personally, the only thing that withstood my constant scrutiny was Christianity. If you’re wondering if there is a God, you might want to read my post on Is God Real? Otherwise, let’s move on.
The fact that you’re asking questions is a good sign. I find the idea of following anything or anyone blindly very unsettling. We’re all on a spiritual journey and as we grow physically through training and mentally through our studies, the same is true of our spiritual growth. However most of us are very passive in this area and prefer that someone else spoon feed us spirituality. You need to be questioning everything. The problem is that people stop at the question and don’t go in search of the answer. Your pastor doesn’t have a spiritual gene that makes him/her better at understanding spiritual matters. He’s on a journey too and he can get things wrong just as easily as you can. Your spiritual growth is directly proportional to the amount of time that you are willing to put into it.
When things get weird
You hear all these bizarre stories from many countries of congregations submitting to weird, if not dangerous doctrine. It’s insane, from eating grass in South Africa, claims of holy semen from a pastor in Brazil to walking on venomous snakes in the U.S. I’ve wondered how seemingly intelligent human beings can submit to these spiritual leaders without question. You should be questioning what you’re taught but questioning your spiritual leader can be tricky.
The reason why these people submit to these leaders is because they believe that he/she genuinely cares for them. When they have trouble at home, they turn to their spiritual leaders for guidance. These leaders sow their time into the lives of the congregation and this trust is abused. They started to believe everything that they say without question. And God forbid, you question the doctrine from these spiritual leaders, you’ll most likely be lynched by the followers. Question privately without sounding confrontational when you see that the doctrine doesn’t match what you have learnt through your own studies. If the answer isn’t satisfactory, look elsewhere to other pastors via the internet. If you see things are getting out of hand, bail.
Proof of the pudding is in the eating
How would we be able to gage the validity of beliefs? The answer is actually quite simple, watch them. Irrespective of religion, when everything is going well, people are quick to praise God. We all act like we just won a Grammy, standing on the stage with the award.
“I’d like to thank God Almighty and my momma for my number one hit single….”
But let things go wrong and watch what happens. The true test of our beliefs is how we handle pressure. Most people are like a flake. Given the right conditions, they are firm and can stand upright but if you add a little pressure, they quickly crumble. Add a little heat and they melt. It takes one to know one, I was also a flake once.
The unfortunate truth is that most Christians are flakes. I’d say 70% if not more. Many of us can quote scripture, regularly attend Church and Thank God in the good times. Let me describe the other 30%, I’m not talking about the stoik type. You know, the ones that pretend like nothing hurts them. I’m talking about the ones that in spite of everything going on around them, in spite of the hurt or the situation, God is still who He says He is. They don’t turn around and blame God when things go wrong.
Observe people over time and you should be able to narrow down the one that works. I am a Christian because it works for me, not because I was brought up in a Christian home.
If you’ve ever wondered about this topic, I hope that this article has helped or at least got the ball rolling. We’ll stop here for now. In part two, we’ll go into further detail.