I sometimes talk to people who think they are not good enough to come to church. Of course, when they talk about coming to church, they aren't really talking about being good enough to walk into a building. They are worried because they have messed up so many things in life that God doesn't want them. These folks have a kind of innate understanding of sin -- but they don't really understand how God has already dealt with all of our failure and messed-upness for us.
I recently read a pretty good article on just this topic on the Campaign for Core Christianity website:
"Whatever form it takes, we all know how messing up feels. First comes the realization regarding the mistake we made. Next may be someone finding out about it—along with the shame and embarrassment—and finally having to face the consequences of our mistake.For days afterwards, depression, anxiety, emotional and sometimes physical distress may dominate our lives. We replay the events over and over in our minds, and doubts about our self-worth and value can begin to creep in. In those moments, it is easy to think that maybe we should give up and quit the job, the marriage, the family, the friendship, or whatever will get us away from the situation.
These thoughts can also cause us to forget the gospel message. Or even if we remember it, it doesn’t necessarily take away the pain. Maybe we wonder, “Jesus died for my sins but I still mess up. I let people down or hurt someone or acted stupidly. How does Jesus’ death so long ago and so isolated from my life now bring me any comfort? I still messed up, and I still have to face that shame today.”
But this attitude shows a fundamental misunderstanding of what is really going on. The truth is that Jesus is the best comfort we can have when facing failure. In the midst of our failures and mistakes, it is vital that we remember these four crucial points Scripture tells us about reality."
Read the whole article here.
In a recent conversation with a friend, we got to talking about religion and faith. No surprise there. It was an especially enjoyable conversation, though, because my friend doesn't consider himself religious. Nothing against it, mind you. It just never really made much sense to him or seemed like it really mattered.
Along the way, he raised one of his questions: Jesus lived so long ago. How can we know that that information we have about him can be trusted? In other words, can we trust what we read in the Bible?
That's actually a great question. A very common one, in fact.
There are also some very good answers to that question. They may not persuade someone who just set against the notion of God. There are people for whom no evidence would be sufficient. For someone who is open-minded to the possibility, there are good reasons to think that the accounts we have in the Bible are dependable and should be taken seriously.
Nicholas Davis has written an excellent summary of those answers in an article titled "Why I Trust the Bible." He gives five reasons and a succinct explanation of each one.
The article is simple and direct. It doesn't go into all the possible detail, but gives the basic outline of why it is perfectly reasonable to accept that the Bible is true, and to accept the truth that it proclaims.
I have always like Andy Stanley's formulation of this idea.
"If a man can predict his own death and resurrection, and then pull it off, I just go with whatever that man says."
Yup, we can depend on the Bible. It may be a little hard to figure out sometimes, but considering what's in it, the effort is worth it.
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