If your life has been anything like mine, it’s been riddled with questions. Even when you know what is right, it’s still treacherously difficult to consistently act as you should. But leaving aside our often wavering resolve, the best of intentions can lead to bad results. Life isn’t just a matter of battling to do what’s right; it’s often a matter of knowing what is right.
“Are the things my church teaches truly important?”, you may be wondering. You see other Christians who don’t share certain values you were taught to embrace. They seem to be doing just fine, at least as far as you can tell. Yet there are others who militantly defend these same values. And you find yourself frustrated with it all. How can so many well-meaning people reach such different conclusions? Is there even a way to know who’s right?
When you aren’t sure who or what is right, it’s much harder to give your all. How can you have the energy and concentration to work towards a goal when you aren’t sure what the target is? Instead of being strong and joyful followers of Christ, we quickly become unsure of ourselves as we relate with the world and other believers. If our understanding of the Christian experience is filled with vague, clichéd ideas about our faith, then we should find it no surprise when life seems confusing.
These questions have been particularly personal and soul-searching for me. I don’t have a strong background of Mennonite/Anabaptist tradition. My parents, both raised in Christian homes, were searching and wanted to raise their children as responsibly and Biblically as they could. This journey led them into the Anabaptist circles, where they saw some often neglected Biblical principles taken seriously and lived out. Tragically, my father left our family when I was sixteen, rejecting the very things that he had once worked hard to instill in his children.
This upheaval came at a crucial age. It forced me to face many difficult questions about what I believed. As painful as this experience was, God used it to root a love for Him and His Word very deep in my heart. Casually going along with what I had been taught was not an option. The ridicule I faced from my father ultimately strengthened my resolve to take my Christian life seriously.
But surviving this initial turmoil didn’t keep me from needing to learn many other difficult lessons. In the years following, I’ve seen turbulence in other relationships and am forced to admit that some of my best, most well-intentioned ideas were destined for failure. I’ve wrestled with knowing how to fully engage my talents and intellectual curiosity without becoming self-conceited. And I want to be able to share with others in a way that is meaningful and instructive. How can I be passionate about truth without just defending my own ideas.
Jesus tells us that the first commandment is to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.¹ There’s something significant expressed here that I think can be easily missed. Loving God isn’t some kind of ambiguous idea clouded in mysticism. Our love of God calls for the full engagement of our whole being, a conscious decision to direct our energy towards knowing more about God. As I’ve searched for answers to tough questions, this has served as an important goal marker for me. Am I being motivated by a sincere desire to love God more? It isn’t that we need to subdue our curiosity and drive for life; rather, we should be fully alive in pursuit of God and His truth.
Shortly before He was crucified, Jesus was praying to the Father, asking Him to preserve those that had been entrusted in His care. “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth”, He prayed.² Truth plays a primal role in our sanctification and the Word is seen as truth itself. This is the foundation on which we must build our understanding and approach to life on a practical level.
I think we too often isolate our Christian life from the everyday difficulties and questions we face. There are many issues that the Bible doesn’t directly address (although it might happen more often than you think). But this doesn’t mean that there isn’t a Biblically responsible way of viewing and processing these issues. As we engage our minds and hearts to love God more, by respecting and adoring His Word, won’t our daily, mundane decisions be directly influenced? How can we love God with our whole being without a process of transformation in every area of our lives?
So I’m here because I want to inspire you to be more engaged in a pursuit of God. Along with the other members of our team, I don’t think the Christian community thinks enough, certainly not deeply enough. As I anticipate delving into a range of issues on this blog, I acknowledge I’m risking presenting ideas that are flawed or at least unbalanced. But I hope my thoughts can motivate you to think more intentionally, even if it’s initially fueled by disagreement. It’s my prayer that the content we produce can be used as a means to the end of a greater love of God. As we think more responsibly, guided by the Word and the Spirit, we can love more, ultimately coming to know God more. And as we know God more intimately, we will be better prepared to share and reflect His glory to those around us. And that’s something we should be excited about!
Soli Deo Gloria
¹ Mark 12:30
² John 17:17