Sunday, September 15, 2013

Am I Even A Christian?

I've been asking that question lately. Anyone else out their ever doubt their faith? Surely, I can't be the only one afflicted in this way. In fact, Ecclesiastes reminds me that there is nothing new under the sun. And, 1 Corinthians 10:13 reassures me that "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man."

This is somewhat familiar territory. Over two years ago I vividly remember standing at my bathroom sink. I looked at the person staring back at me and asked "What is happening to me?" I had no idea what a nervous breakdown was, but those were the words I used to describe what I was feeling when I called my husband on my way to work that day. Feeling so overwhelmed and worse, so far from God, I crumbled. Although I would not describe my present feeling in the same way, the common denominator is the distance I feel between myself and God.

A friend called the other day. She asked how I was. We talked for a while and she wanted to know how I was dealing with this - a friend of hers was going through a similar "dark night of the soul." I'm not even sure what that really means, except to say that apart from God, there is no light. When I feel far from God, when the distance seems great, the darkness sets in. 

Because I have experienced this in somewhat of a similar fashion, I am asking this question:

Is this a "crisis of faith" or simply just the tension of every Christian? 

In other words, is this the journey of faith? Certainly, our journey as a Christian does not keep us on a level path that is free from stumbling stones and potholes. I know this is true. This actually serves to give me great comfort. I also believe that if the truth were known, many other Christians - probably sitting right next to me, are experiencing their faith (or should I say, lack thereof) in the same way I am.

In the midst, God's grace has enabled me to give thanks for a couple of sweet surprises. One, my husband. He has been for me a rock, an inspiration and a comfort. His confession is strong and innocent and seemingly immovable. I'm so grateful for God's grace to him, and as a result, to me. He has reassured me and been a sounding board for me. Second, the gift of theology. God has given me the privilege of taking a class this semester. Martin Luther's theology feels like an oxygen hose connected to my very soul. These are words I hang on to:
In these works faith is still slight and weak; let us ask further, whether they believe that they are well-pleasing to God when they suffer in body, property, honor, friends, or whatever they have, and believe that God of His mercy appoints their sufferings and difficulties for them, whether they be small or great. This is real strength, to trust in God when to all our senses and reason He appears to be angry; and to have greater confidence in Him than we feel. Here He is hidden, as the bride says in the Song of Songs: "Behold he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows"; that is, He stands hidden among the sufferings, which would separate us from Him like a wall, yea, like a wall of stone, and yet He looks upon me and does not leave me, for He is standing and is ready graciously to help, and through the window of dim faith He permits Himself to be seen. (excerpt taken from Treatise on Good Works by Martin Luther)
As I gathered this morning with my brothers and sisters for worship, God comforted me again with these words:

Weary burdened wanderer
There is rest for thee
At the feet of Jesus
In His love so free 

(lyrics from Come to Me by Michael Bleecker)

It is no surprise that God laid this verse on my heart this summer: For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (1 Cor 2:2) 

Right now, this is all I got...

...amen.

6 comments:

  1. Definitely not alone my friend. I remember reading somewhere that the fact that you feel distant from God in itself validates your relationship with Him. Meaning, you can't miss a relationship you don't have. It's like if your husband goes away on a trip you miss him because you have a relationship with him. He's distant, but you feel the distance because of the closeness of your relationship with him. I've been wracking my brain to remember where I heard this illustration, and I can't remember for the life of me. But it resonated with me so I wanted to share it, albeit not nearly as eloquently as when I read it I'm sure. :)

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    1. Thanks so much for your encouragement Sheryl! What a great illustration - appreciate you sharing it.

      gratefully,
      Lori

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  2. Lori, I also feel this way at times. 4 yrs ago I actually denied my faith, thinking there was no way that God could love me. There are times that, like the song by 7eventh Time Down - Just Say Jesus - that's all I can do. I have friends who have gone through this too. You aren't alone. I'm sorry you are going through it and I'm praying for you.:)

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    1. Susan, I am thankful for the work of the gospel in your life and for your words of encouragement that flow from it. Nice to know I'm not alone...
      Appreciate the prayers too!

      blessings,
      Lori

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  3. THE LORD'S CHURCH

    What are the things that do not make you a member of the body of Christ?

    What are the requirements for membership in the Lord's church?

    THINGS THAT DO NOT MAKE YOU A MEMBER OF THE LORD'S CHURCH.

    1. Simply believing that Jesus is the Son of God does not grant you membership in the Lord's church.

    Mark 5:1-12 .....7..."What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?....12 The demons implored Him....

    Demons believe that Jesus is the Son of God, however, that does not give them membership in the Lord's church. Legion was not part of the body of Christ.

    2. Sprinkling infants with water does not make them part of the body of Christ. Sprinkling unbelieving babies is not an act that adds them to the Lord's church.

    Mark 16:16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved....

    Only believers who have been baptized are added to the Lord's church. Babies are not capable of believing.

    3. Joining denominations, such as the Catholic Church, the Baptist Church, the Lutheran Church, the Methodist Church, etc. does not grant you membership into the Lord's church. Joining a denomination cannot save anyone. You cannot join the Lord's church.

    Acts 2:47...And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

    The requirement for being added to the Lord's church is not joining a denomination. The Lord only adds the saved to the church. The church is the body of Christ.

    WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR BEING ADDED TO THE LORD'S CHURCH?

    The apostle Peter said, on the Day of Pentecost, " Be saved from this perverse generation!" (Acts 2:40)

    Who was saved? Acts 2:41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day were added about three thousand souls.

    Three thousands souls were added to the Lord's church on the Day of Pentecost. Why were they added to the body of Christ?
    They received Peter's message and were immersed in water.(baptized).

    Peter's message: (Acts 2:22-38) They were taught that Jesus was the Christ. That Jesus was Lord. That God raised Jesus from the dead. They were told to repent and be baptized so their sins could be forgiven and that they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    Those who believed Peter's message, and repented and were baptized, were added to the body of Christ by the Lord Himself. (Acts 2:47 ...And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

    MEN BECOME SAVED THE SAME WAY TODAY AS THEY DID ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST.

    HOW TO BECOME ADDED TO THE LORD'S CHURCH.

    1. FAITH: John 3:16, Mark 16:16
    2. CONFESSION: Romans 10:9-10, Acts 8:37
    3. REPENTANCE: Acts 2:38, Acts 3:19
    4. BAPTISM: Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16, 1 Peter 3:21, Galatians 3:27.


    ONLY THE LORD ADDS YOU TO HIS CHURCH!


    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY CHRISTIAN BLOG. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com

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  4. Lori,

    I too, struggle with my faith and have bouts of doubt and grief.

    But when that happens, I, as did Luther, return to my Baptism.

    The Lord has Baptized me. Made me His own. Gave to me all the promises that He gives to real sinners. And none of it depends on me...on 'my faith'. on my works, or feelings of being saved or not, or even what I think. But on Him and His external promises...that come to me from outside of myself. In His Word and sacraments. Grace...before faith. Then the whole of the New Testament makes sense.

    Thank you, friend. I'll remember you in my prayers.

    Remember what the Lord has done to you in your Baptism. Made you His own.

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