Remember that summer I spent working with those two kids while I was in high school? I forgot to mention, among all of the potty talk, that I also fielded about er, 2000 questions a day. Every direction I gave was accompanied by a “Why?” Every little move I made I had to explain what I was doing, how long I would be doing it for, why they couldn’t do it too, the history of what I was doing in a religio-social context, when it became legal for women to do what I was doing, how old you have to be to do it for the first time….you get the idea. Granted, I am (not) known for my patience, so I handled all of the questions like a champ. “Because I said so. Because I’m an adult. Because your mom told me too.” Easy, right?
One thing I love about God is that He allows us to ask questions. When you read the Book of Psalms, it is clear that David, the author, was a questioner. He asks about why the wicked prosper; he asks where God is when he feels alone; David is the spiritual equivalent to an annoying 5-year-old, and I follow heartily in his footsteps. God, instead of being annoyed or angry about all these questions, calls David “a man after His own heart.”
That’s a mighty fine compliment coming from the Creator of the Universe, especially considering that big boo-boo David made when he killed a woman’s husband so that he could sleep with her.
Sometimes, Christians get it in their heads that people should “just believe” and any questions thereafter are sinful. I think this is just wrong (and damaging to new believers). Sure, becoming a Christian does take a step of faith– meaning you could have all the facts concerning Jesus and God from science and history and STILL not believe. In my mind, there are TONS of things that point to God existing, but no, I cannot drive you to God’s house for tea. I know that this facet of faith drives people who need “cold hard facts” mad.
I thought I would list a few reasons why I have chosen to follow Jesus. This is not a decision that I took lightly. I used college as a time to really figure out why I believe what I believe. Feel free to share some of your reasons:
1) We aren’t robots. God gave us free will. He could have used the following recipe for creating Adam and Eve:
- will do everything I tell them to do
But He didn’t! Here’s why: Let’s say that I ordered Alex from a robot husband catalog. I spend the first week or so programming him to do what I want him to do. A few months later, I come home and he has done the dishes. Instead of thinking, “Oooh, how sweet. He thought of me and did the dishes! I feel so loved”, I would be thinkin’ “Darn tootin’, he did the dishes. That’s what I told him to do.” By giving us the chance to not choose God, He gave us the chance to choose Him. Oh, I’m sorry. Was that last sentence confusing?
God doesn’t want perfect robot babies. He wants children who have chosen to be adopted into His family. He made that decision from the very beginning and so He knew what He was getting into- that man would never ever ever ever ever ever be able to do everything He asked. He loves us anyway.
2) Jesus- The Man. I love reading about Jesus’ life (books Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the Bible). He was so rad. He took all of the social conventions of the day and threw them out the window. He spoke to women and listened to what they said (and thus gave them value in a society that considered them on par with animals). He called out to tax collectors (who were hated by everyone because they cheated people out of their money) and asked if He could eat with them. He chose followers that were ordinary, rather than choosing people that had power or money. He was peaceful in the face of violence. He was loving when everyone else decided to be haters. He had dinner with sinners and prostitutes when He could have eaten with the religious leaders. You can’t help but read the New Testament and do some fist-pumps. Jesus really stuck it to “the man”.
Jesus was nuts about social-justice, as is God in the Old Testament. This is really important to me. One of my favorite Old Testament verses is Isaiah 1:16 and 17 where God is pleading with the people of Israel:
16 Wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
stop doing wrong.
17 Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.[a]
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.
Jesus, quite literally, taught us how to really love. No, not this “I love you so I’m never going to offend you or hurt your feelings” wishy-washy love that we have today. And no, not the “I’m calling you a dirty name because I want you to go to heaven” kind of love that some churches and Christians are practicing today. It’s the kind of love that says, “I want you to have the best relationship with the Father that you can because I love you. Sometimes I’m going to tell you truth and you won’t like it but I tell you because I want you to be in a right (whole) relationship with God.”
3) He doesn’t need me. My freshman year in college my parking lot was literally a 30 minute walk from my dorm-room (15 minute bike ride, unless you were derailed by a blueberry bagel you had eaten that morning and decided to just lay on the ground outside of the football stadium feeling sorry for yourself). I decided that I wanted to volunteer at the soup kitchen in downtown Bryan. So, every week, I would take my 9 mile hike to my car, drive to Bryan, and then spend some quality time with the residents at Twin City Mission. One particular week, it was cold and rainy. I was hemming and hawing about whether I should call and tell them that I couldn’t make it. I mean, 30 minute walk…in the rain…with an umbrella that was notorious for flipping inside out if someone blew on it. I was probably in the process of reaching for my phone when God, quite clearly (in my head), said, “Beth, I don’t need you to do this. There are thousands of other people that I could ask to volunteer at the homeless shelter.” Right then, it just hit me. Serving God is an opportunity, a blessing. God chooses to use us and if we say, “Uh-uh. No thanks”, then He does not get his panties in a wad. He just moves on. To be honest, it’s quite nice to have my trust in a God that can take care of business on His own. He is powerful but He chooses to use me anyway.
4) He knows what I want before I do- Sometimes people misunderstand Psalm 37:4- Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. They think, “Whoo hoo! If I become a Christian, then I will get a new car and a fancy new job and a mustache-finger tattoo.” What is stupid is that they don’t realize that God has plans that are SO MUCH BETTER than anything that we can dream of. If we decide that we really want to follow God and we begin to enjoy Him, then He starts giving you these crazy things that you never knew you wanted and you certainly don’t deserve.
I have never had a face-to-face encounter with God. I have friends who have experienced Him in dreams and visions. While I’ve prayed for it, I’ve never experienced it myself. The closest that I’ve gotten is the whirlwind romance that happened with my husband. I was engaged to someone else before I met Alex. I thought that I wanted to marry that person. When we broke off our engagement, I thought, “What the heck, God? I thought you really wanted me to get married. I guess not.” So then I vowed to be single. A month after my broken engagement, a very persistent friend gave Alex my contact information. My first message to Alex said (in a nutshell), “I’ll meet you, but I’m not interested in dating.”
A month later, I spent a whole day praying about whether I was going to marry this stranger or not. God told me, quite clearly, that this guy was my husband and I was a dumb-dumb if I didn’t marry him ASAP. You see. I thought my first fiance was what I wanted but God knows me so much better than I know myself so He knew that Alex was the one for me (PS- my ex-fiance is happily married now and has a beautiful baby, so I’m sure he would wholeheartedly agree).
Another example is Dallas. Alex and I DID NOT want to move here. We wanted to go exploring and live in new and exciting spaces. But because of one job offer, we ended up here and it has been fabulous for us. God has taught us so much about knowing and serving the people around us. We have gotten to know some fabulous people while we’ve been here and I’m not sure we would trade it for the world.
5- Grace- What is grace? It is a gift given that you don’t deserve. God has offered everyone- regardless of background, past offenses, vegetable preferences- the chance to know Him. Not just know of Him, but truly know Him.
If I was God, I would send little Beth to the corner, more often than not. If there’s anything I’m good at, it’s not listening to Him or heeding His words. The great thing is that God loves me, regardless of my ability to be obedient to Him on a minute-by-minute basis. Christianity is unique among world religions because you don’t have to do anything to win God’s affection. He already loves you. In fact, you can’t earn it because it would be impossible. God freely loves us. Of course, once we choose to follow Him, any disobedience on our part separates us from Him (like we’re walking away from Him). He still loves us, but He lets us choose to walk away, if we want to.
Once you become a Christian, it’s not all roses and butterflies. There are periods of doubt, but, at least in my life, God has proven himself to me time and time again. That’s why I follow Jesus.