Posted by Jimmy Spencer
I have always believed in God. Sure, doubts existed, but I knew God was there, at least in some form or another.
Religion, church, priests and pastors – I felt they were just unnecessary gatekeepers, wielding self-proclaimed powers of God to those who followed.
I didn’t go to church and I didn’t read the Bible. My motto: I love God but religion just separates me from that.
Years later, nearly a year since what I consider to be the dawn of my true faith in God, I still am not sure I feel or think much differently. It’s a complete struggle. I have faith in God, but I don’t have complete faith in the Bible or man’s religious power.
Just as I did growing up, I still know that God is completely real. I’ve been shown that without any doubt. My personal testimony to God’s existence is powerful and intimate. I have gained a deeper connection with God in this past year, which has included a sense of communication that borders on unbelievable. But of course I believe it; those experiences that strengthened my faith are tangible moments that I felt and saw, truly coming from God.
So how can I be so convinced there is a God but still struggle to trust in Christianity and The Bible? Because I still am not convinced that man hasn’t completed botched this religion thing. I don’t trust man and I don’t trust history recorded by man.
It’s hard to believe that God’s word is bought at a bookstore. It’s hard to believe that the interpretations and translations of scripture are accurate after thousands of years of potential tampering. It’s hard to discount all the amazing testimonies of the countless religions and their high powers just because they don’t match my own.
Church, in its foundation, should be a community that supports and guides its members to act in faith and love through God. Pastors should be inspirational leaders who help orchestrate that community and provide leadership in those values.
Rather, religion lays emphasis on shame, violating those who are struggling and ultimately leading to resistance from not just religion, but faith as well. All of this placed shame is delivered in the name of what God “says,” based off the text of a Bible that is interpreted in contradicting methods.
I spent this past year reading the Bible and doing my best to decode its messages and meanings. I threw myself into those messages and pulled out so many powerful, meaningful verses. I still do love the Bible.
But I haven’t been able to overcome one major hurdle: Is the Bible truly the word of God or is it merely an inspirational interpretation of religious men throughout history, no different than any great book ever written?
I believe that Jesus did exist and that He died for our sins – a part of my testimony that God has shown me without a doubt. But has the account of Jesus and His message been skewed or exaggerated throughout thousands of years? Did it perhaps begin as God’s word before it was altered by societal beliefs, leaving parts of the Bible accurate and no longer others? Can I trust the Bible as a set of guiding principles and its list of sins?
Does God care what religious sect you are so long as you act in faith and love for Him? Or does He even want you to be “religious” at all?
I’ll be spending time searching for answers. I’ll be praying for God to show me that the Holy Bible is truly His word. I’ll seek and pray for a grander perspective.
I’m not questioning my faith. I am not questioning God or Jesus. The question I am asking is whether or not we can truly rely on the Bible and religion completely as a way to guide our lives.
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