Beliefs, Truths, and Everything In-between (A Blog Mostly to the Teens)

Hey group, due to the impending Christmas program (that we all have the pleasure of being a part of), we won’t be able to continue our walk through Luke together for the next few weeks. In light of that, I have taken this opportunity to write about a subject that I feel responsible as your pastor to address. I know, I know... your probably thinking to yourself, we finally get a break from listening to him speak and now we have to read his lessons? First of all, it’s very mean of you to think that way about my speaking, and second, take heart! Like medicine goes down easier with a heaping helping of sugar, my intention is to write this blog in a way that is both relevant to your situation and enjoyable to read (if it is not, at least you know my heart was in the right place). 

The title of this blog is Beliefs, Truths, and Everything In-between, and those three ideas are exactly what I hope to address in this first article of the series.  We live in a world that, in many ways, believes the ability to possess truth to be a myth. This form of idealism has created a culture that sees those who claim to have a firm and uncompromising truth system to be: either sad myth chasers or just mean bigots (unless of course that belief system happens to be naturalism, then they are simply academic).

The question that must be addressed by Christians is, "are they right?" Has our knowledge of the earth and our ability to identify with almost every culture on the planet, and to observe each different and unique belief system, shown us that we are crazy to hold firmly to what we believe as the only truth?  Is Jesus really the only way to a higher spiritual knowledge? In the eyes of many of the educated world today, the answers to these two questions are a resounding, NO and NO.

So, to us, I pose my first bold question again... "Are they right?"  (Right about now you may be thinking: has our youth pastor gone nuts? He wants us to question our beliefs? I wonder what our next youth pastor will be like after Josh gets fired?) Let me assure you that this is exactly what I want you to do; question your beliefs. You see, I truly believe that the problem with Christians, heathens, young progressives, and old conservatives, is that they do not question enough.

Now, before you throw down your computers and burn me at the stake for heresy, I ask you to consider what it is I'm asking you to do... All that I require is that you entertain a simple question. I do not want you to turn to your nearest lifeline for spiritual guidance and ask them how you should answer this question, and I don't want you to give yourselves the answer that you think is the right answer. I want you to digest the question and then consider what you actually believe about the answer. Can we truly say with confidence that what we say we believe equates to actual real life action invoking truth? If you are feeling afraid or indignant because of my questioning at this point, then this blog is for you (if you are not, I would still encourage you to read the rest anyways). 

I believe that many Christians (and especially young Christians who have been raised in church) live in fear of their own doubt. They do not want to admit that they have it (as if God could be fooled) and so they go on about their lives in denial of their lack of belief. As a result of this they are terrified to ask the questions that, in their minds, may expose their faith as a fraud. They want to have a strong faith, but the factious tone of their science teacher nonchalantly debasing the very foundation of their belief system keeps on ringing in their ears, or, maybe it’s the jeering of their intelligent friend that thinks it’s all, "a bunch of croc," as he or she would put it. These Christians may even love what they have been taught as a child (or are being taught as an adult) and they respect those who taught it to them, but they do not necessarily want to pin their hopes and dreams on something that (according to the writers of their school text books and their favorite movies and TV shows) is untrue, inaccurate, and just down right crazy. They fear there are no good answers to their questions, and so, because of their fear they refuse to ask them. They live in a blurry grey zone called the in-between. This means being mentally stuck between what they would like to be true and what they fear is actually true, which results in a faith that is about as stable as a dingy in a hurricane (Jam. 6:1).

If you have ever felt this way in your Christian walk you would not be alone. I'm sure there are millions of professing Christians that are in the same dingy with you. Some even use their faith as an excuse not to ask questions and think they are better for it... But, the fact is that true faith, bold daring faith, is not afraid of questions. It doesn't shrink back from doubt but faces it head on.

This is the kind of attitude that I want to encourage in our group: an attitude that's not afraid to be honest about doubt or to ask tough questions. Let me first say that the best and only way to have a strong vibrant faith is in the context of a close, intimate walk with the One in whom your faith should be placed. If any of you are wondering, that would be Jesus Christ. And this relationship can only be cultivated by walking in the Word with the Spirit (that is, reading the Bible and relying on the Spirit’s guidance for Spiritual growth and wisdom). But you should all know this fact already if you have been listening to my lessons.

 So this blog will hopefully serve a different purpose for us than to simply reinforce what you already have been taught. The main purpose of this series of blogs will be to encourage you to ask…..and to admit... and to simply be honest with yourselves. I'm offering this blog as an open forum. If we hold the truth in our midst, then we must not cower from even the most formidable of questions or hide from answers that they produce. And the awesome truth is we do not have to.

The more we dig, the more favorable the answers get for us. God made us to be rational, curious and intelligent beings (I use that term loosely for some of you teens) and he did not leave us without ample evidence to prove his words and proclamations to be almost undeniable true. We just have to be bold enough to ask the question and look for the answers. So let’s do it together. In the next few weeks I plan to address some issues that are at the forefront of popular thinking (e.g. Origins of earth, Universalism and the dependability of the Bible). I fully expect you to read these and to offer your own input and questions for the group to see. I hope you guys are as excited about this as I am, and as always: don't forget to do your reading (Luke 13). 

Joshua Penley