Human history is replete with debate over social, political, and religious issues. While a “right to choose” is a celebrated ideal on the social front, it applies as well to one’s faith journey. ♦
In a recent discussion about abortion, a woman emphasized her “right to choose” whether to have an abortion or not. I absolutely concurred. To a reasonable extent, we all have full rights to choose whatever we want in a free country such as ours. She was adamant that all women should be allowed full freedom in their decisions about their bodies. She argued that back-alley abortions were dangerous – she even lost an aunt decades ago who died from such a tragic incident.
I didn’t disagree. Why argue? As mentioned in a recent post (Who’s Truth is Right), I used to believe the very same thing. But my views changed.
Fortunately, in a free society we can go anywhere we want, live anywhere we want, seek a job in any field we want, support any cause or political party we want. We have full freedom to think and believe anything we want.
Even about God. Even about the Bible.
That being said, just because we believe something does not make it accurate, correct, moral, justified, or acceptable in God’s eyes.
It’s merely our belief. And sincerity doesn’t make it right. In fact, we may be very sincerely wrong.
“A Scrap of Poetry”
That same woman in the abortion discussion also clarified her beliefs with the following statement:
“I have also never believed that 2 cells, 4 cells, 8 cells, and on and on for a good bit longer, are the same as a child. No scrap of poetry from the Bible will tell me otherwise. I know that countless fertilized eggs never make it even to implant. And I know a scrap of poetry is not a clear direction.”
Her “scrap of poetry from the Bible” comment reveals much about her own personal worldview, which is really at the heart of all of our opinions and beliefs on social and political matters. And of course, on religion.
The Religious Choice of a 14-Year-Old
When I was a child, I used to believe like a child. In fact, the Apostle Paul speaks accurately when he writes:
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. – 1 Corinthians 13:11
I became a Christian at the age of 14. Young and bright, but very naive and ignorant, I listened one evening to a church pastor spell out the Gospel message of Christianity in a very clear and succinct way. I was hooked. It made complete sense to me and my limited worldview perspective.
Yes, the faith of a child is a good thing.
And Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:3
And I did have a naive perspective about this new faith in my life. I saw Christianity as an insurance policy of sorts (ticket to Heaven) as well as the answer for the coming apocalypse (remember The Late Great Planet Earth? Forget about it.). I liked reading the New Testament in my simplified Good News Bible translation (didn’t have the Old Testament in my edition – too confusing anyway). And I liked to listen to that new musical, Jesus Christ Superstar.
Yes, Jesus was cool.
The Religious Choice of a 35-Year-Old
Over the next 20 years I prospered in the world with a watered-down faith-life I now realize was not steeped in knowledge of God. But in my mid-30’s, with natural maturity that comes with growing responsibilities in a marriage, family and career, my cognitive faith kicked into another gear. I had a clear choice as to whether I wanted to learn more about the Bible or not. I knew this Christianity was worth the investment.
I started really studying Bible history, books of the Old and New Testament, and reading commentaries and literature about Christianity. I studied other religions and views opposed to my faith. I concluded with overwhelming evidence that the Bible was hardly just a “scrap of poetry.”
I was also learning that while one may be far from a holy human being, God is patient, and loving, and steadfast with His children/projects. He’s clearly with us for the long haul, like the father of the Prodigal Son waiting with open arms for his son’s return.
Indeed, that “scrap of poetry” is worthy and vital for clear direction.
The Religious Choice of a 55-Year-Old
After a half-century of living, a certain level of perspective settles in. At least it should. When the grandchildren starting coming into our lives I started to understand the purpose of life. It’s what the Bible had been showing me all along. Now I started to really grasp the generational-thing, the wisdom of obedience and real truth and life passed on to new generations like a flowing river fueling new life.
The choice now was to the degree of commitment and surrender to God’s leading and actions. At this point I am “all in” without reservation and experiencing new joys, insights and blessings regularly.
I realize now it really is what we were made for.
Choice in Retrospect
I’m sorry it took me so long to fully understand, but I’ve stopped kicking myself about it. I actually now recognize God’s loving and guiding hand on a 14-year-old boy and the freedom He gave me with nurturing support through a lifetime of choice-making.
And that’s freedom in God’s world, in any economy. We all have to start somewhere, perhaps at a naive point with dubious motivations and influences. Even foolish and selfish notions. We may then grow, even over years, and meander in our understanding and grasp of full knowledge of our beliefs and underlying purposes. Eventually we should be mature enough to confront all the sources of inputs, even lies and distortions, to make truthful conclusions about life, origins, reasons.
The choice has been laid out fully in what is hardly a “scrap of poetry.”
Then at some point, hopefully not too late or on our death-bed, we recognize the real Source of Truth and experience an abiding relationship in rich abundance of peace and life overflowing.
How are you doing with your Right to Choose?
Now we see only an indistinct image in a mirror, but then we will be face to face. Now what I know is incomplete, but then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. – I Corinthians 14:12