Everyone believes in something. And if you say you don’t, you’re lying to yourself. Even if you believe in nothing and are atheistic, you still have a belief system that you believe in nothing (a bit of a paradox, I know, but it’s true). As human beings we are hard wired to believe, to have faith, in something. In our day and age, many have said that faith itself is a superstitious system that tried to explain what they didn’t understand which science today can explain away with empirical evidence. But even believing in the scientific evidence is still a system of faith and belief.
Many have called this faith system, this belief system religion. And evangelical Christians are quick to point out that Christianity isn’t a religion, it is a relationship. That’s wrong (and that’s for another blog post down the road, sorry). In fact, Christianity meets all the requirements to be a religious faith system. Of course so does science and so does watching the Bears every Sunday.
There are levels to growing in this faith, in this belief system. And when you change faith systems, it isn’t that you’ve grown in faith, it is more of a lateral transfer from one faith/belief system to another.
So how do we grow in faith then? And my question is how do we grow in faith and belief in Jesus? From the very beginning, I began teaching my kiddos about God, about Jesus. I began teaching them the importance of having Jesus in their lives. Now, some call this indoctrination. And this is something even the Communists were really good at. In the beginning, many children believe what their taught. And they grow up in this knowledge and understanding.
I want my children to grow up in the knowledge and understanding of the one true God, of Jesus and His love for them. But right now they can’t fully grasp the more abstract concepts of faith They are not at a cognitive psychological level to fully understand it.
The sad thing is, is that many people don’t grow past a certain stage in their understanding of the world. In fact, they stay at a cognitive level that they learn to stay safe and regurgitate what they’ve been told by their gurus and teachers. And the same is true for people in faith/belief systems. Many never grow out of that stage.
But when people do, they begin to see things differently. And they begin to question things. They begin to see conflicts between what they’ve been taught and what they are seeing in the world around them. And they don’t know what to do. And for many Christian youth, when they do this, they are told that they are doubting their faith, that they are challenging Christ, that they are denying the resurrection. Or worse yet, they aren’t given anything to fall back on and simply walk away from the faith.
Sadly, this is what we’re seeing today in the church. The Milinneial generation is one of the many who are leaving the church and the faith in droves. They weren’t given the basic necessities to fully grapple with conflicts of the mind when it came to faith. Their faith development was stifled unintentionally by well meaning loving people. And those well meaning, loving people are now trying to figure out why people are leaving the church and the faith.
We are a people who need to grow in our faith. As a follower of Jesus, I know that I can’t be complacent in my faith. I must grow. I must be challenged. I must seek God in all that I do. There are times in my life where I grappled with the conflicts of the mind. I grappled with the things that had contradictions to the teachings I had heard. And I struggled with that.
I had to wonder how do we make sense of this all? How do I rectify and reconcile evolution with creation? And for some, they just can’t handle that. So either they’ll do all they can to explain things like that away and stifle anyone who questions it, or they will walk away.
I had to wonder why such a loving God would allow pain in His world. For some they would just regurgitate what they were told and simply give a platitude that it was all in God’s plan. Others when they hear that want nothing to do with a God like that and walk away.
Growing in the faith means grappling with these conflicts of the mind. But we need to have people to help us grapple with them. When we’re left on our own to grapple with them, we get stifled in the faith and change faith systems. We trade out one belief system for another. It becomes a lateral transference and we still struggle with what we believe.
As a follower of Jesus, I know for certain that my faith system is true. I know for certain that what I believe is absolute (and again, that’s probably for another blog post. I like to use what I call the Ford Pinto illustration for that one). I am a pilgrim on a journey to a hoe I’ve only seen glimpses of. And I want to walk with fellow pilgrims and help them see these glimpses too. As we walk together, I want to help people work through the dangers, toils, and snares of the road and help them navigate home.
Many are leaving the church due to struggles in faith development. Many are struggling with their faith. Many have made a faith/belief system transference and still haven’t grown with where they are at.
As a fellow pilgrim on the way home, grow in your knowledge and understanding. Be there to help others grow as well. Help each other grapple with conflicts of the mind. Help each other home. There will be tough roads ahead. But when we walk together, we can help each other out.
Why are so many leaving the church? How can we help them come back? How can we help them not leave in the first place? We need to help them grow in the faith, grapple with the conflicts of the mind, and be strengthened in who they are in Christ.
How can you grow in the faith as a fellow pilgrim on the road home?