Last Sunday, our pastor challenged the congregation to consider this: are we simply believers in Christ or are we followers of Christ?
You’d think one would imply the other wouldn’t you? Well, let me ask you this: how many people do you think actually vote in every election? Ok, I don’t know the answer to that question either but I do know that the amount of people with opinions (or beliefs) far outweigh the number of people who actually consistently vote. Just because we believe something it doesn’t mean that we’re going to sacrifice our time to do something about it.
You can see how this is problematic.
Admittedly, I have focused most of my spiritual journey on being a believer. As a former atheist it was no small thing for me to believe in Christ. In fact, I still have times when struggle with doubt and I think I always will. I think that’s just going to be something that I deal with because of my history. So for me, believing isn’t something to be taken lightly. But I know it can’t stop there.
My journey with God has taken me through many landscapes. I’ve seen the lush meadows of peace and the dark valleys of despair. My faith has grown strong and complex. There are times when it feels scary to be in so deep. I fear that I’m clinging to another Santa Clause, a fictional figure conjured-up for comfort. How can I ascend to the call of being a follower of Christ in this condition?
Too quickly do I forget the tried-and-true solution to this problem.
It just seem so backwards. It IS backwards. Yet doesn’t it make sense that it would be? Jesus, the King born in a meager manger. The Son of God who submitted himself to the mercy of man. The one who asks us to die to ourselves that we might truly live. Of course the solution would be backwards.
When I cry to God, “Father, help me with my unbelief!” He says, “Yes, come follow me.”
My belief is strengthened by my following of Him. That is the irony. How much I would rather feel certain before I began the following. But no. He insists that I come to Him, broken, scared, doubting… so I do. I lean in, I push through, I force myself to because I made an intellectual decision years ago that God simply makes sense. My heart is fickle but experience and knowledge have set my mind. So, I put my feelings aside and choose to follow.
What does that look like? That looks like me reading my Bible when I don’t feel like it, praying when I don’t feel like it, listening to the promptings of the Spirit when I don’t feel like it. I’ve never been much of a discipline person but this is what I’ve learned I must do. And you know what?? It doesn’t take long before my heart remembers. My heart remembers God’s relentless, undying, ever-faithful love for me. It remembers that fear is my enemy, not my ally. My heart aligns with my head yet again. Now I am again a follower and a believer.
I don’t know if you resonate with my experience. Many people become followers of Christ and never struggle with doubt afterwards. (Can I just say that I envy you?) If you do resonate, I want to encourage you to continue to follow Christ even when it feels frightening. Do it when the voices in your head are telling you not to. If you know that Jesus walked this Earth and was resurrected from the dead for you, don’t let your doubtful heart hold you back. Pray that God helps you with your unbelief and your fear. Press in. You won’t regret it.