Faith is Not Optional for You

I had the opportunity to chat with an old friend today. She was stressed out because she felt one of her dearest friends was apostatizing. Her friend, who is also an acquaintance of mine, got married at an early age, had kids, and felt the burden of responsibility. From I can hear, she has come to resent many aspects of her life.

My friend asked me to blog my thoughts on the topic of Christians denying the faith. Since my friend had to leave shortly after the request, I didn’t have time to ask her the motive behind her request. Was it so my friend could be alleviated? Was she expecting me to write something so powerful that it would cause her friend to repent? I hope not the latter because I’m about to offer a poor defense of the faith. I’m not really sure what her motive, but I can say that I’m familiar with those close to me apostatizing, and I know it is one of the most PAINFUL experiences you can imagine.

This is the sort of post that I would normally make private on my blog…mostly because the topic tends to make me use curse words, and everyone knows Christians should not use curse words (in public, at least). Curse words never win people back. The only way to win back someone who is apostatizing is to make them feel bad for their apostasy and to be perfect so that they can’t criticize the faith. (That’s sarcasm for those who don’t get my demented sense of humor.)

Faith is INSANE

I guess my first thought when I hear that someone is apostatizing is usually, “I get why she doesn’t want to believe in God. Only crazy people want to be Christians.”

The truth is that most of the time, I don’t get why I am a Christian. I sometimes wonder if it’s really faith, or just a personality defect (I have a number of those). Seriously, the highlights of my day are getting on my knees to talk to a God I can’t see and 2,000 year old stories about a guy most people don’t believe in.

My priest said today that the average Christian pastor prays five minutes per day and that the average Christian doesn’t pray at all. So, even among Christians, I’m an oddball. I didn’t always pray. Back when I thought prayer was an obligation, a duty, or a tool. Then one day, it just hit me one day: The Christian life is about drawing near to God and offering what we have.

Denzel Washington is the only Christian that gets to be REALLY famous

Rachel and I were talking about our priest’s sermon today which talked a bit of persecution, and Rachel said something like, “Who wants pain? suffering? To be hurt and reviled by others? Who wants that?” Rachel knows me well enough to know that I’m salivating at this point, just waiting to shout out, “Me!” She shot back quickly, “I don’t want that. I want to be famous and tour the world, to be adored for my talent.” I replied honestly, “I don’t want that.” She correctly replied, “But you don’t have any talent!” (By now you’ve realized my wife is better at humor than me.) In truth, Rachel wants that suffering more than she realizes. All Christians do.

Christians have to be completely insane to believe in and follow God. I mean, I can understand the “health and wealth Christians” liking God. But my faith hasn’t made me famous, popular, or rich. I don’t have much money. My friends are all poor too. I’m friends with several homeless people, but every single one of my “celebrity” friends (i.e. those in TV or movies) have unfriended me on Facebook because I too boldly proclaimed biblical ethics. It’s not very politically correct. And by the world’s standards, the Christian faith is not very “nice.” I get why this faith is so unappealing.

Quite frankly, believing my faith all the time is polarizing. I think a lot of Christians forget this because they surround themselves with other Christians.

Being a Christian Mom Sucks

I write this section to my acquaintance, my friend’s dear friend. I don’t know if she’ll read this, but what I have to say is addressed directly to her. The little time I’ve spent with you was fun. You’re a beautiful person. And you’re hilarious. You cracked me up that one night all three of our families hung out together.

Much of this is an apology to my wife too because I think you share a lot in common. I don’t know everything you’re going through, but I have a small glimpse of what my wife deals with. I simultaneously adore my wife’s beauty so much that I make her feel like it’s the only thing I value while AT THE SAME TIME make her think she’s not pretty enough.

My wife is talented. Really talented. She is one of the best writers I know. She beats me in every fight, not because I give in, but because I can’t beat her in a debate. She’s smarter than me, and I detest that. She sings like an angel. She makes beautiful music on her violin.

But her life involves cleaning all day long, dealing with children who never stop talking, changing diapers, doing laundry, and trying to teach a four year old that’s smarter than me. I have to watch the kids sometimes, and about 3 hours in, comas sound appealing. On top of that, she has to deal with me getting upset over stupid things like gummy worms (don’t ask).

If she’s lucky, she’ll be able to get together with a friend to play music once a week. She never gets to write. She does get to beat me in debates fairly often, but I don’t think that’s much of a consolation.

I hardly ever tell her how great she sings or plays, how amazing her writing is, how artistically talented she is, how wonderful of a mom she is, or how much I appreciate the little things she does.

An older lady at our church stays late at church every week to clean up. I was the last one out today, so I thanked her for being faithful in doing the little things. I don’t say that stuff to my wife. I forget. I assume she knows. I expect it.

My wife is overworked and under-appreciated.

I don’t know you well. But I know you are beautiful and talented. And I know you’re tired of having just one role that you’re expected to fill. I haven’t talked to your husband, but I know how hard this is on him. I had a roommate leave the faith. That was just a roommate. I know how much the little things people say can crush my own wife’s faith.

I know they say the grass is always seems greener on the other side. It’s not. It can seem like it for awhile, but it’s not.

Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. I know that you know that. You’ve lost the Way. The path you’re on leads to destruction. The Deceiver is whispering lies. He leads to death. Jesus Christ is the Life. In Him, you live, and move, and have your being. Outside of Him, you die.

He has claimed you as His own. Do not forget that. Do not foolishly deny that.

You also have responsibilities to your family. You can cross a line with your spouse that’s irreparable. Don’t do that. How many 80 year olds do you know that regret that they didn’t party enough? Far fewer than the number of people who wish they would have spent more time with their children. You never hear a grown woman tell her mom, “I really respect that you didn’t stay home with dad. I really respect that you partied instead.”

I hardly know you, and I care for you. When I heard about the choices you’re making, my heart ached. I can’t imagine how your husband feels. Our mutual friend is hurting. Most of all, you are hurting. And I get that. But putting on a cheery Facebook profile doesn’t work for long. There’s some stuff you have to deal with. Quit wasting time. Don’t put it off.

Jesus Christ loves you. I know you think this is your decision. But your life is not your own. You were bought at a price.

Addendum: To Her Friends

From what I observe, she doesn’t really want to apostatize. She’s trying an alternative life on because her current life is not fitting very well. If she was serious about apostatizing, she’d be more public. She’s hurting. She doesn’t feel like she’s reaching her full potential. Things aren’t making a lot of sense right now, especially when you can’t step away from the burdens of life. She’s wanting you to respond with love. And you’re probably and upset. Show her the love of Christ. She’s not looking for an academic argument. She knows in her heart that the alternative life makes no more logical sense. It’s just a bit more fun and enjoyable right now. The Christian life doesn’t have to be a drag. It will have suffering and pain. But so will the other life. The difference in those two lives should be shown in love.

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