It’s no good; I have to come clean about what I really believe.
I have been a Christian for over 30 years, and the last few years have been difficult. In that time I have read and studied quite a lot, I have connected with people with all sorts of views about God and the Bible; I have read books from Catholics to Charismatics, Calvinists to Wesleyans and many in between.
In one sense I pushed everything I believed off the table and started again, not accepting my beliefs at face value, but challenging every assumption and trying to think them through. I have found there were things I believed because I assumed it, people told me it was so, or it was simply convenient.
In the last 3 years I have gone through the resurrection to the rapture, ancient cultural assumptions to modern marriage. I even asked whether the Bible really was legitimate in the 21st century? I have read countless blogs and posts where people are coming up with new thoughts and challenging what we Christians thought we believed – and some of these people are really clever!
After all of this, have my views changed? Oh yes, they really have, but not in the way many people think they have. Because I am an egalitarian (I believe woman are equal to men in marriage, ministry etc.) and have a view of church that is not mainstream, it is possible to make some mistaken assumptions about where I am in my beliefs. Truth be told, I believe I am now more orthodox in my faith then when I started (orthodox meaning I subscribe to the apostolic beliefs that were taught after Jesus’ ascension).
What does this newfound way of thinking look like? Well, I believe the message of the Bible to be true, its symbols and metaphors pointing to the concrete reality of the Kingdom of God. I have a deepening understanding that Jesus really is Lord of all, who will one day appear to complete what He started when He rose from the dead. I still haven’t (and I don’t think I ever will) bought into evolution, and I believe the New Covenant was always the plan. As I understand things, Jesus personally fulfilled God’s command to Adam and His call to Israel – Jesus now has dominion over the earth and is the King of all creation. I don’t believe anyone really makes Jesus Lord of his or her life, He already is – the key is, do we give Him our allegiance?
What’s more, I have let go of some things, and I am far more comfortable with embracing mystery. I am convinced that if we are in Christ we are family, a bond that runs far deeper than race, denomination or debateable doctrine. I accept the reality of Judgement Day and believe that our true hope is not heaven when we die, but life after life after death – in other words, the resurrection of the body and the renewing of creation. I know that saving faith is evidenced far more in how we treat others, than in our spiritual or religious observances, and we are living in the ‘already, but not yet’ of God’s kingdom.
A true answer to the seeker, a solid rebuttal to the sceptic and to know what is truly worth dying for. tweet
Of course, a perfectly valid question is, so what? Why should anyone care what Mark Neale believes? My point is this, we most likely agree that the world is changing fast and so much of what we have taken for granted is being removed. The church is now a fringe movement in the West, Christians are being murdered wholesale (often unreported) in North Africa and morality is, in some cases, being criminalised in the UK. This means we need to take what we believe very seriously; it is increasingly important to think through our faith and know why we believe what we do. The occasional Bible verse won’t give the stability we need to function in these difficult times, it is vital that we seek for Holy Spirit empowered understanding (Proverbs 2:3-5), which will allow us to give a true answer to the seeker, a solid rebuttal to the sceptic and to know what is truly worth dying for.
Don’t be afraid to ask yourself why you believe what you do. I am not asking you to undermine your faith, but to reinforce it with understanding. Remember, in the parable of the sower, the one who bore fruit was the one with understanding, the one who had the Word taken away was the one who didn’t understand (Matt 13:19, 23). In other words, understanding won’t undermine our faith, it will in fact, add substance and relevance to our beliefs, which will result in us bearing lasting fruit, and that has to be a good thing.
Go well my friends 😀
P.S. If this was a help please click share, thanks.