This is for a good friend of mine who has started to think that it’s all made up. I don’t know why, but as I read this this morning I thought it was for you, mate:
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
I know it doesn’t sound appropriate, but there it is.
Just incase this is any help whatsoever, I went through a long while last year where I was convinced it was all made up. And as I run an SU camp and work for a church it also made me feel very hypocritical. It’s Em by the way (don’t think I’m logged in…).
I think this is an easy answer that doesn’t always help. Why should we let God off? What happens when the suffering becomes too much and someone says I don’t want to know God anymore. Whose fault is that?
I think you are missing the point for a lot of people. How can you argue against someone loosing faith or belief with scripture or reassurances that God is there waiting?
If you have stopped believing then it it spurious to use such methods…
So if you loose faith forget it?
I wouldn’t want to blame anybody. I’d be confused and surprised at God for apparently ‘overdoing it’, like it would have appeared to Job. The amount of suffering he allows is very surprising. But I think it does help (me at least) to see our suffering as part of something that he’s wracked with pain about himself. I couldn’t believe in a religion where God doesn’t suffer – at least in Christianity, this is the central point.
And I wouldn’t want to blame the person who gave up; I’d feel sorry they did it, though. Together, struggling, dragging each other along, and with Jesus’ example of suffering leading us, I believe we can make it.
I think different people need different things, darkly. Some people lose their faith because they intellectually don’t think there’s evidence for Jesus’ or the Bible’s credentials. They’d ask for good, hard evidence.
Others lose faith emotionally; they just don’t ‘feel’ God’s there anymore. I’d want to try to show them God’s love, through me and others around me.
And my interpretation of what Andy’s doing here is yet another approach. I don’t think he’s assuming people believe Scripture; I think he believes he’s hearing something there, which he thinks might resonate in people’s heads, a faint echo which they recognise just might be God communicating. It won’t work for all, but some people with doubts might need that type of ‘echo’ to help them. Anyway, I’m speaking for you Andy, sorry – tell us what you were doing!
I am aware of the contradiction of quoting the Bible at someone who doesn’t believe it.
I don’t really know what I’m doing, but I thought maybe God wanted me to say this.
I think it depends on whether you start to question or stop believing.
I suppose my thinking begind it is that if you stop believing then there is no need to struggle. Forcing yourself to suffer isn’t the answer. Once the decision has been made your life doesn’t get any worse, infact I think it can get better.
Well, I guess it’s also important to point out that just ‘cos a way of life doesn’t need struggle/suffering doesn’t mean it’s actually the right direction to go in.
I’d be surprised if a post-Christian’s life continued to be struggle-less, anyway – it’ll just involve different problems. I don’t think there’s such at thing as a trouble-free life.
At the end of the day, the question is whether Christianity is right or not. If it is, then in the long term life is going to be better going with it, even if short term relief can be found by leaving it.
Having seen a number of people very close to me having these kinds of losing faith experiences, I feel angry with God:
I kind of know that I shouldn’t feel like this, but I feel like it’s God’s fault if he makes it too hard for people to get through it and keep their faith. God expects so much from us, and sometimes it feels like we get very little back. (Obviously, I know that I should be thanfkul to God for everything, but it just doesn’t always feel like that).
Life will never be struggle-less but it removes the self imposed stuggle that makes it even harder.
But do you think Christianity always causes people to struggle? My faith in God may occasionally be a struggle, but is often a source of great energy, comfort and inspiration. I don’t think Christianity is or should be a constant burden. If your experience of it is totally bad, of course you should reject what you experienced… but that’s not the same as rejecting positive Christianity.
I’m not sure if I see your difference. It sounds like throwing good money after bad. I can see that some people get a lot form their faith. I also see a lot of people who continually struggle and hold out on the hope that they _may_ be rewarded when they die.
I think that I am starting to revert back to my thinking some 6 or 7 years ago when I saw religion as a crutch for the weak.
Hi Darkly –
So I’d want to look if I could go along with the people who get a lot from their faith! Of course, even more importantly, I look at Jesus, rooted in real history, and am convinced I can’t reject him as some fraud. He is the reason I follow him.
re ‘crutch for the weak’ – this doesn’t sound right to me. Do you see me as weak? Or many of the Christians you know? Now, in actual fact I am weak in various ways, but I think only in ways that afflict all sorts of people, Christian or not.
I really don’t think Christianity is just for people who have particularly strong weaknesses – people of all types find it and value it.
I think it’s only a crutch for the weak in the sense that we’ve ALL got broken legs, it claims.
Hope your week’s going well!
Your right, I don’t see you or may of my close Christian friends as week. I guess I was tired, jet lagged and writing when I should really have waited until another time. Although I do sometimes feel that they are weakened by it.
I don’t see you as weak and I am convinced that you believe. What I am questioning is whether your belief is founded. I suspect I would have found people equally as convinced of their faith/beliefs in religions that have come and gone. The Inca’s used to make human sacrifices to ensure the sun would rise. You and I know for a fact that it would have risen regardless. They still believed it adamantly.
Religion has a way of self sustaining. I guess I am questioning the legitimacy of the religion, not your reason for having faith or how strongly you believe.
Yes, I’m sure you’re right about Incas and so on – just because people believe strongly doesn’t mean they’re right, I totally agree.
But I think I have fairly good reasons for believing what I do; I’d gladly write more about them if you think that would be interesting. Or if you’ve got particular doubts you want to talk about, feel free. Perhaps on the discussion board – these messages are running up against the margin on this page!
Please do write about them DavidB.
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