Doubts that challenge beginner Christians.
Would God want a relationship with me?
Is it even possible to believe in God?
Could I accept the story of Jesus ?
There are a number of hurdles that can confront beginners on their journey of faith.
Firstly, we must really examine those ideas that can challenge the very possibility of God’s existence or the concepts of Christian faith. Once we do have an open mind on the possibility of God’s existence, though, we can then move forwards in building our Christian faith.
Our thoughts/ feelings may also need to be confronted during this process.
We must also maintain the correct mindset on our importance to God. That is, he would want to enter into a relationship with us.
2. GOD WANTS A RELATIONSHIP WITH YOU?
Yes, this is an area of thought that can even prevent the commencement of faith. And it is related to comparisons of ourselves to God.
2.1 Feeling too insignificant
We can rightly view ourselves as insignificant specks of life in comparison to our God, the creator and sustainer of the universe. And for a beginner Christian, it is easy to hold nagging thoughts such as, “I’m too insignificant to be bothering God?” or “Will God really have time to help me with my small issues?” or again, “How could God love me, let alone forgive the bad things I have done in my life?”
The truth actually is that each and everyone of us is just as special and important to God as anybody else on Earth, or anything else in the universe for that matter. God is all powerful. He is absolutely without limits. And he can therefore readily deal with each and every one of us, on a one-on-one basis, at any one time. I mean logistically it looks just too incredible to be possible. But, you will come to see that it happens. He is just such a mega-powerful presence.
And if you have done bad stuff in your life? Well, the Bible just says turn your back on your old way of life, then accept him as the boss (your guide for life). Oh, and, you must also accept that Jesus died an excruciating death to pay the price of your bad choices. [1Peter 3:18] Yes, it is a good deal!
Always remember that God wants us to invite him into our lives; to engage with him. The Bible makes that clear [Zephaniah 3:17] [James 4:8].
3.2 Just feel the love
So we must not hesitate to engage with him through the Church and within our day to day lives.
Also remember that he loves each one of us deeply, whether we love him back or not! By becoming involved with us, in any way that he can, allows God to demonstrate his existence to us through his love.
And that folks is what building faith is all about! We must therefore allow ourselves a degree of self importance in the greater scheme of things. If we do not approach him, or otherwise let him into our lives, then we cannot truly discover his presence. Then we cannot enter into that all important two-way relationship with him. That is a relationship based on love.
Please never think that you are not important to God!
Yes, just feel the love.
3. GOD MAY SEEM IMPLAUSIBLE
Many doubts for beginners relate to broad confronting issues. You probably know what I am talking about. In this day and age, with our outlook on life, it can be challenging to even contemplate the possibility of something … well … as amazing as the concept of God. His existence just does not come into the equation of everyday life for a great number of people.
And the concepts of Jesus, within Christianity in this day and age? How do we accept that God could have become a living human being? Did he even exist? Then did he die as the Bible tells us? Finally, did he really arise from that death? The concept of the Holy Trinity? Well …
Even though I do have deep belief and faith myself, I absolutely understand these thoughts can arise, so read on please!
3.2 Challenging concepts of religion
Look, we may hold simplistic and outmoded concepts of God. We just may never have been exposed to more reasonable options. And all those deep, deep questions we have built up over the years: “Isn’t religion only for those who need a crutch in life?” or “How come various religions have different views on what God is supposed to be like?” or “Why do suffering and evil exist in our world if our creator God is supposedly good?” or “Doesn’t science prove that God cannot exist?”
I have offered answers for these sorts of questions in the section of the website, “Faith and reason”. Please see the Menu Bar above.
Once we genuinely evaluate all known challenges to faith I can assure you that we find there is nothing of substance to negate the possibility of God’s existence. I explain below under Heading 4 how anyone can gather the evidence they need to believe in God.
3.2 Christianity’s beliefs appear challenging
And what about Christianity’s beliefs? I can say that I did absolutely struggle with them, in my early days of faith. For me, as I explain in the article, “How to believe in God” my first priority was to believe in God. As that became clearer, then I concentrated on the Christian faith bits (as I raised above). I think I was pretty surprised in retrospect that it did all come together for me.
So I say yes, it can be reasonable to believe that God did exist as a human being. And he did die on the cross etc.
The article, “Sound faith” offers an explanation on how it is all achievable. It really is not all that hard to accept either, I must say.
4. GATHERING THE EVIDENCE
For most of us, belief in God comes through the recognition of his presence in the Church and within our everyday lives. That eventuates when we choose to engage with him there.
As I have written elsewhere, ‘belief’ is built on the experiences of each and everyone of us. And we need to have accumulated soundly evaluated evidence from within our experiences to support our faith, as opposed to ‘wishful thinking’.
A large proportion of the website is devoted to the task of finding evidence of God’s existence, by recognising his presence as defined above.
4.1 Threats to our progress
However, doubting questions may still present themselves to those who are pursuing new faith, such as, “Why can’t I quickly find the conclusive evidence of God’s presence I need?” or “Those important prayers of mine haven’t been answered yet!” Again some of these types of concerns have been targeted in articles supporting those mentioned above.
I think that the greatest obstacles to faith, for beginners, are trying ‘too hard’ to gain belief and just expecting ‘too much’ too quickly. And when sound evidence, with absolute clarity, does not appear as quickly as hoped, then the old original doubts rear themselves again.
What is needed is an element of patience in our initial approach. The term “hasten slowly” could never be more true than in the case of faith. And do not think the Bible does not respect these tendencies of ours. St Paul was referring to faith when he said, “But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently” [Romans 8:25].
My advice is not to worry, it absolutely will come! And please follow the advice under the following heading.
4.2 Remember to involve God
Please do not forget to pray about the matter either.
Bear in mind though, that God may wish to lead you towards some source of evidence that does not initially sit well with you. If you feel you are being nudged in a certain direction by God, e.g. attending a particular church or church group, then go with it.
I speak from my own experience here. In my late teens I began to have severe doubts. So I prayed for help with them. And I have to admit that God gave me a leading to attend a particular church (not the one that I already attended at that time). Because having fellowship within a different church was outside my comfort zone at the time, despite having a friend in that congregation, I did not follow through on it.
I subsequently became agnostic and eventually went on to become a hardened atheist. It took me some twenty years to find my way into that same type of church environment that God had previously wanted me to enter, and reap the benefits of strong evidence of his presence there. You can read about some of my experiences within differing areas of the Church in the article, “God’s presence in the Church”.
4.3 Take small steps
As a beginner, building both ‘belief in God’ and ‘Christian faith’ is usually about taking one little step at a time into unknown territory. Countless millions of people, over thousands of years, have built a case for God’s presence in their lives, i.e. not through wishful thinking. They, by necessity, have worked through their doubts and, building on their experiences, developed sound faith.
I am sure too that it well pleases God when we start on our journey of faith, but he knows that the road may be bumpy for us at some stages. From decades of experience I can write that he will assist … if we take notice that is.
5. THOUGHTS AND EMOTIONS
All of us humans are somewhat cynical these days … and probably out of necessity I might add! A commonly heard adage states that, “If it seems too good to be true, then it probably isn’t.” This saying is born out of the prevalence of scams that abound in this time of ours.
Therefore, none of us should be surprised when our mind tells us that what is shaping up before us, on our search for faith, is all just too incredible! I know that I experienced that feeling a few times myself along the way. And I still do so on rare occasions despite the significant amount of evidence resting in my ‘grey matter’.
We must confront such thoughts, feelings or moods with genuine reasoning. That is accept, yes, that things happening really do indicate there is something big in this.
5.1 Negative feelings
I have written elsewhere that proof of God’s existence should appear to us ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ if we are to build faith that will serve use effectively. And that is what I meant earlier in this article by soundly evaluated evidence. But it is to be expected that the term itself, “beyond reasonable doubt” will mean different things to each of us, bearing in mind that no two individuals think exactly the same way.
Emotions and feelings definitely play a role in this decision making. For an atheist, who has his or her mind set on absolute negativity for this subject, no amount of evidence will ever be enough. It is most unlikely that God will ever actually appear before us, in this lifetime at least, to change such a view. And that it is what is expected by many an atheist. God has chosen to be invisible for good reason.
5.2 Cannot relax into faith
Unfortunately, I also know that some people who actually want to believe in God, maybe badly, seem unable to relax into a comfortable faith. Their minds continue questioning, “what if?” or “why?” long after others would have accepted the likelihood of God’s existence. Often this is a result of our genetic inheritance … we can be just born with a questioning nature.
Sometimes too, it stems from an emotional or psychological state that affects all areas of life and not just religious faith. And some people have suffered considerably in life, to arrive at that state of mind. The questions ringing in the minds of those particular folk are, “If God exists, where was he during those times?” or “Why did he let it happen to me?” Counsel may need to be sought in such cases from someone who will not use indoctrination or fear as tools of coercion, but would rather apply required healing practises.
5.3 Know when enough is enough
Above all else, if you find yourself in this frustrating position of not being able to accept that you do have enough evidence, please do not hesitate to invite him to assist you. And somewhere along the line we all must acknowledge that enough is enough, then just flow with faith!
It is within the application of faith – i.e. walking with God by following his guidance, asking for and receiving his assistance, reading the Bible, attending church services etc – that, as I have already said, we find genuine evidence of his presence in our lives.
If you are just beginning your faith journey, please have confidence that you can come to achieve sound faith for yourself. As a result of that you can indeed reap the rewards. And that includes gaining a more purposeful and contented life; real personal freedom.
From my decades of experience I can assure you that it all really does work.
If you would like advice on how you can come to believe in God and build effective Christian faith please begin by accessing the articles under “Journey of faith” in the Menu Bar above.
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