How a close relationship with God can
lead to real personal freedom.
Gain the rewards of sound faith.
Greater contentment with life.
Now, you may recognise the guy, to the left, from the homepage of this website. He asks the confronting question, “Should I care whether God exists?” And that is a question that sat with me as well, prior to what I refer to here as my audit of ‘Christian faith when applied to everyday life’. (I am from a senior auditing background and the majority of my advisory team are Christian clergy. To glimpse the ‘who’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ of this website please click here.)
In this article I try hard to explain the rewards available to anyone who has developed ‘sound Christian faith’ for themselves. So yes, I write that it is indeed a good idea to ‘care whether God exists!’ And I confidently write that after decades of testing it all for myself.
Now, my use of the term “personal freedom” here may not fully equal your view of a perfect life right now. Despite this, please bear with me! I know it took time for me to grasp it all, and then put it to the test.
Firstly, this article follows on from its predecessor “Sound faith”. I maintain that faith of that level – based on firm belief in God and acceptance of essential Bible scriptures – can lead to the potential freedom in life that is the subject of the article. Have a quick read of that earlier article if you have not done so already.
The article, “How to believe in God” gives directions, if needed, on how to reach that particular objective, i.e. ‘believing’.
2. GETTING A ‘HANDLE’ ON LIFE
Like me in my years as an atheist, you may have already recognised that the contentment in life which you had hoped for is largely unattainable! For a starter, ‘getting what we want, and getting it when we want it’, does not happen too often in life. And oh so often, as a result, our big objectives do go ‘pear-shaped’. We often find ourselves struggling, as a result, trying to be philosophical about it all …
Starting to sound familiar?
Even in my early days of faith, I found myself on a journey that offered a very different way of life. As a baptised Christian, that included going to church, reading the Bible and engaging with God in my life. Strangely, it was no longer all about me. I was in fact walking in the ‘shadow’ of something far larger. And I came to realise that ‘I had some new responsibilities to meet’ as a result of my faith. Yet, I also found myself becoming … strangely I guessed at the time … contented.
Yes, I was actually getting a ‘handle’ on life. Even in its early days, faith can be empowering especially when compared to other life options! But there is much more on offer when we do deliberately engage with God through sound Christian faith.
3. THE DEMANDS OF FAITH
But firstly, before explaining about those ‘rewards’, what did I mean above when I wrote that, “I had some new responsibilities to meet?” Well …
When turning to Christian faith, we do need to at least put some effort into refocusing our lives. Based on my lessons learnt, within my own faith journey, we need to pay attention to God’s basic expectations of us in life. It simply fuels our relationship with him; brings us closer together. And as I shall explain later, that in turn leads to greater freedom in life.
3.1 Trying to live as he wants us to
We are all expected to try to follow God’s directions, made all the clearer within the Christian Gospels of the Bible: life is definitely not just ‘all about me’ as I have already indicated!
God does not expect us to be perfect. No, he just wants us to try hard to live the life he wants of us; entering into a relationship with him, caring deeply about our fellow human beings, looking to his guidance in life etc. This goal for us in life is termed, “faithfulness”. Please see the article, “Rules, laws and commandments” for an explanation of what God’s wants of us in our day to day behaviour. The basics of Christianity are also explained briefly on this website.
From my own experience God also expects greater ‘faithfulness’ from us as our relationship with him deepens. That is because if we don’t do so, then it simply just gets in the way! In simple terms, we are expected to try to follow Jesus’ example. You know, I can say too that there is quite some satisfaction in achieving that for him.
And the Bible makes it clear also that we need to regularly attend a fellowship of faith; a church. Our chosen fellowship will also assist us greatly during our faith journey.
3.2 His ‘plan’ for us
We should also learn how to follow the Lord’s guidance on our path through life (more on that later). He knows every one of us: our personalities, abilities, and our weaknesses I must add. Our needs, and those of other people close to us … even others in our communities, are also clearly known by him.
As a result when we actually engage deeply with him in life he is able to provide that guidance and subsequently help each of us on our true paths.
4. FAITHFULNESS AND FREEDOM IN PERSPECTIVE
When we arrive at that stage in our faith journey – trying very hard to live faithfully and following his guidance in our daily lives – we are largely ‘in sync’ with him. And that is where it really can all come together for us!
Even in my early days of Christianity, through my ‘walk of faith’, I came to find that I was largely freed from the bad habits and selfishness that had tended to drag me down in the past. I mean I noticed a positive difference in my attitude towards life even at that stage.
But I eventually noticed so much more can be achieved through a life lived ‘in sync’ with the Lord! Initially these results surprised me. My ‘evaluation’ of Christian faith in action led to greater spin-offs than I would have ever thought likely. I often use the term “more of the same” when talking about God’s grace, and its positive outcomes, as he applies it to our lives. I was recognising it more and more often in my faith journey and indeed my whole life.
So, yes, I personally got used to it! And indeed I did come to find just how empowering faith can be!
Mind you, we do need to understand that the road of faith, despite its rewards, will not be totally devoid of humps and bumps.
4.1 Reduced stress
Firstly, if we do trust God; are faithful to him, then we can be freed from so much stress in life.
Like other faithful Christians, I found there was no need anymore to worry too much about things that might go wrong; be overly worried about making mistakes; or be fearful of anything really!
If you are bit of a ‘worry wart’ like me, then active faith can really reduce the average worries and woes that face you in everyday life.
4.2 Finding ‘ourselves’
Just like me, you can come to find that God will be there to guide you in all the important areas of your life; to free you from the results of your own poor decision making. And when you follow that guidance he will then assist you towards the best outcomes possible. And that term “assist you” refers to God’s gift of providence: “God’s helping hand“. It is also a result of God’s unconditional love towards us, also termed “grace.” But I refer to grace separately below.
If you are truly ‘in sync’ with him, then your life will become much more ‘smooth’ and under control. This is faith’s top gear! And this is about how you can actually find the ‘real you’. Please read the article, “Trusting God with your life” to get the big picture.
Yes, I can assure you, this stuff really works! The other Christians on my advisory team wholeheartedly agree with me.
4.3 Life’s meaning is clear
Most importantly, I found that my ‘relationship’ with the Lord really had another ‘surprising’ result in my life. I came to recognise that it was the basis of my very existence. I now know, without doubt, it is indeed the reason for my existence; why I am actually here. Real meaning!
Look, we don’t even have to think about how to achieve this important goal. Again, it just becomes obvious to us as we come to ‘get it all together.’
It can free us, again making us ready to face most any challenge in life!
And for some ‘heavy stuff’ now! Although modern society tries to forget it, physical life will eventually come to an end for each and every one of us. We are told in the Bible that we Christians will then move on to eternal life: freedom from death itself. Now that is not a bad promise in itself? Ultimately, that is where our personal relationships with the Lord will take us!
4.4 Life in perspective through God’s grace
Finally, and without doubt, we practising Christians revel in the freedom flowing from God’s grace. His beautiful ‘grace!’ It becomes so very obvious through our ever deepening relationship with Jesus. And it is all about love. He loves us without limits. Grace really does help to place our lives in perspective.
And, we can find there is an immense ‘sense of purpose’ in life, open to us through that relationship, as a result!
It is actually hard to find words to precisely describe that relationship (and grace) well enough to do it justice. Or explain that love we can come to have for Jesus. Again, please have a look at the article, “Christianity Explained” for a better understanding of our religion’s beauty.
4.5 But life will not always be ‘smooth sailing’
But! Again … yes … as I have already highlighted many times through this website, do not get the impression that life will always be ‘smooth sailing’. God has made no such promise.
Firstly, from my experiences, there may well be hard work on the road ahead as you walk along with the Lord. Although on the other hand it may be strangely satisfying. He will be there, if you are ‘in sync’ with him on your journey, guiding and assisting you.
Remember too, life will still have its ups and downs, whether we have faith or not. Physical and emotional suffering will inevitably occur somewhere through life. And we do grow spiritually as a result. Please see the article, “Suffering and Evil”.
It is true to say that we will be better able to cope with life’s ‘hard knocks’, as a result of our faith, when they do occur. This is because, although he may not prevent mishaps and pain occurring to us as a result of life’s ‘spin of the dice’, he is always there to support us with his grace.
Make no bones about it! He will be there.
Importantly, from my experiences in life, the more we are able to place discipline in our lives; become faithful Christians, and look to God’s expectations and so-called plans for us, then the closer and more loving our relationship with him grows. And the more ‘freedom’ we shall achieve as a result.
As implied already, I know that looks paradoxical? But from decades of using and evaluating faith in my life, it is true! It does not mean a boring life either. You should, for example, find yourself achieving goals in life that are truly satisfying; possibly outcomes you had not even considered prior to coming to faith. There is certainly no longer any reason to try to keep up with the Joneses, or have to ‘suck up’ to anyone to get on in life.
(However, note again that this potential doesn’t relate to the kind of personal success that the media projects as desirable, e.g. ‘fame and fortune’.)
And again, from my experiences, there can be plenty of excitement along the way. It is all about ‘engaging’ with him in life; again, going for faith’s top gear! If we are willing to get to that stage in life, God then becomes a glaringly obvious presence. And I do mean that!
Join in please. Ask questions. Leave a comment. Etc.