There’s something about my generation that scares me, and it has to do with spirituality.
What do we really, truly believe about the meaning and purpose of life? What are our convictions?
I’m afraid many people belonging to my generation don’t know the answer to that question – or at least their answer may change depending on their life circumstances. Why should we change our spiritual beliefs to accommodate a chosen lifestyle? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? If we’re so open to changing our spiritual beliefs based upon how we live or who we marry, then we clearly don’t believe that faith has any real implications. Instead, the only thing that matters is the here. The now. The present. Things that are visible, tangible, and physical. Hence, I think my generation is, on the whole, very short-sighted.
I am a Christian, so I claim to believe that what the Bible says is true. I believe that my failure to obey God’s commandments (Exodus 20) means that I have sinned. Furthermore, I believe that the penalty of sin is death (Romans 6:23). For this reason, God demands a sacrifice to cover my sins, a sacrifice that he made on my behalf by sending his son, Jesus, to take on the penalty of death for me and anyone else who believes (John 3:16). So, what does it mean to believe this? Is it just a verbal commitment? Do I just say, “Yeah, sure. I believe in Jesus. Why not?” then go my merry way living life as I please?
Of course not! In John 14:15, Jesus plainly says that “if you love me, keep my commands”. And what are the two greatest commandments?
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c]38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d]40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” ~Matt. 22:37-30
And how do we love God?
3 “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God[a] is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” ~1 John 2:3-6
Okay, so we have to obey God’s commands and live like Jesus did. But doesn’t that mean we just need to be good people? Isn’t that enough? Why do we have to believe in the God of Christianity? Why not the God of some other religion?
Because God is jealous (Exodus 34:14), and he commands that we have no other gods before him (Exodus 20:3). Also, because God declares that there are no other gods like him (Isaiah 45:5-6).
Being a Christian is more than just being a good person. That’s based on some screwed up notion that we need to earn our way to heaven. No, the Bible tells us that God’s grace is a gift (Ephesians 2:8-9), and all we need to do is accept it from him. Authentic Christians love God, and they end up being good people as a result.
So, bringing this post back around full circle, we need to know what we really believe and why. We need to see the long-term consequences of our actions in light of the things we claim to believe, because there are eternal implications. Do we take faith seriously? I think we should, because our eternal future is at stake.
I’ll close with a quote from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. I read this a couple weeks ago when I first started seriously thinking about this issue. It succinctly describes what a lack of conviction is doing to my generation:
“We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed. And as a matter of fact, if you examined a hundred people who had lost their faith in Christianity, I wonder how many of them would turn out to have been reasoned out of it by honest argument? Do not most people simply drift away?” (Kindle Edition, book III, chapter 11)