Thursday, September 4, 2014

What is your faith based on?

I find that people have some very interesting ideas about Christianity, and these ideas are not limited to just those people outside the church.  Many who call themselves Christians seem rather confused about what it means to be a Christian and some of the basic beliefs of their faith.  While there are numerous areas of Scripture that are open to interpretation, and I believe in extending grace in those areas, there are some teachings in the Bible that are foundational to the Christian faith.  My concern is that many in the church could not identify those foundational doctrines and therefore would have difficulty in defending their faith to others.

The apostle Paul makes a distinction between feeding people milk and feeding them meat.  Milk, he said, is reserved for those who are new in the faith: baby Christians who need to be taught the basic truths of Christianity.  Those who are growing into Christian maturity require meat, a deeper understanding of the teachings of the faith.  The problem, he identified, was that too many Christians preferred the milk and did not want to be challenged with the meat.  This problem remains today.

A church that is fed a constant diet of milk is likely to be a church that does not take discipleship seriously.  Its members will have a faith that may be a mile wide but only an inch deep.  If problems and persecution comes these people may find their faith will not sustain them.  We hear regular reports of Christians being tortured and killed simply because they are Christian.  I wonder how many in the west would be able to withstand that type of persecution.  Although we may not see that type of persecution, we should never think it could never happen.

What we do see now on a regular basis is the inability of Christians to defend their faith against those who do not share their beliefs.  I'm convinced this is one reason more Christians do not share their faith with others.  They are afraid, and rightfully so, that people will ask them questions or challenge them and they will not know how to respond.

As ministers we have an obligation to feed the people in our churches meat that will enable their faith to grow deeper.  We need to challenge them and their thinking and to generate discussions about some of the doctrines and aspects of Christianity that we often tend to ignore.  As their faith deepens they will be less fearful of sharing their beliefs with others.  A deeper faith will also be seen in the way they live their lives which will encourage others to ask about the hope that lies within them.

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