Ds. A.T. Vergunst / geen reacties
Dear Pastor Vergunst, I am writing to you because I don’t know what to do anymore. I hope you can help me. I grew up in a Christian environment. I always have been to church and bible study faithfully, but I have never been able to grasp the Christian faith properly. I tried and tried, but nothing ever seems to work and nothing ever works out. I tried reading the bible, I don’t understand it. I asked questions at my bible study group and to my pastor, but every time I get answers back like they are speaking to me in Chinese or something. Now it has come so far that bible study group doesn’t want to answer my queries and my pastor and me also don’t know what to do anymore. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to help me although he tried very hard and I’m very thankful to him.
I grew up in the faith, got baptized and followed catechism lessons. At catechism I heard all the bible stories and of course the story of Jesus. His life death and resurrection. That’s all fine with me, but I’m facing some problems with that story. I understand the ‘Jesus part’ of the story, I just don’t understand the ‘God part’. Although Jesus seems like a nice Person and I heard good things about Him, that just isn’t good enough to be a Christian. Christians who I am talking to say that I just have to believe and go to church and all that stuff, but I don’t want to go anymore. I just have to follow the rules and paste a smile on my face, but I can’t and I won’t. I’m tired of it and I’m not interested in a faith I cannot understand.
Also, I don’t want to be a Christian just because everyone else say I have to. I’m not in this game for you and I’m not doing this for you people, that is just not good enough!! I’m pretty desperate and I’m done being nice, I’m sorry. For as long as I can remember, I have been asking these questions. What kind of God do Christians worship? Why do I have to believe, even though I do not understand anything of it? Why do I have to stick to the rules, and why why why is it allowed to be rude and mean to people who do not think the same like you? I read very different things about Jesus in the Bible, but apparently that’s the bit for 2000 years ago.
I have found some of these answers in another religion to which I feel at home and really happy in. But apparently that’s wrong also. It’s not Christian so I’m going to hell anyway, although no one seems to be able to tell me what that is. No one seems to be able to tell me what heaven is also who cares really. Forgive my words and my rudeness. I just really don’t get it and I’m feeling pretty stupid at the moment. Could you please try and explain to me what God you are serving? And try and say anything about the rest as well? I would be so thankful because I’m standing on the point of breaking and just giving up and never take another look at Christianity again. I don’t want to go to heaven if it is like this. It’s horrible and I’m grateful for every help you can give me.
Somehow this letter got lost in an e-mail failure. Yesterday it was resubmitted to me and so I will try to answer you as best as I can. I hope I am not too late for you wrote that you were on the point of breaking and just giving up and never to take another look at Christianity again.
The struggles you have are intense and I realize at the outset that no person can help you in this massive internal and spiritual conflict you are facing. In some way your battle is intellectual (“How do I know that Christianity is the right faith? I am tired of a faith I don’t understand.”) and spiritual (Who is God and why should I serve or obey Him?). I am praying that God will break through in this battle you are waging.
You asked me to tell you “what God I am serving?” I believe that I serve the only God that exist. He graciously came into my life to show me how real He is and also is showing me more and more Who He is. It is not just a blind faith in some divine Being although faith remains faith. I see many evidences that support what I believe from Holy Scriptures as true about God, our Creator. I believe in a God of love Who in His astonishing goodness came down on our earth to bring salvation through the sacrifice of Himself in His own Son. But He also came down in the Holy Spirit to work in people’s hearts to teach us all we need to know in order to be saved. Can I prove God? No, and He doesn’t need to be proved. All men know that He is real though many chose to ignore what they know is real. That’s man’s stupidity as well as unbelievable pride. Lately I been reading a good book by Timothy Keller, “The Reason for God”, and I do recommend that book (though I will not subscribe to all he teaches). Perhaps you sigh (another book to argue me into believing what I don’t want to believe). However, this battle of yours can only be won if you walk in Augustine’s pathway. He wrote, “Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore seek not to understand that you may believe but believe that ye may understand.” This is what the Lord Jesus teaches in Matthew 13:12, “For whosoever hath [and use it well, believing it], to him shall be given, and he shall more abundance…”
You are also a believer for each person is a believer. But you are struggling to put your faith in the God of the Scriptures. I don’t understand your problem with the ‘God part’ of Jesus unless you meant that you can’t understand how a Jesus can be a real human as well as God. Welcome to the multitude of people who also don’t understand that. Jesus remains a mystery but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true what the Scriptures records about Him. In John 11 He weeps overcome with sympathy of sorrow and a few moments He tells a four-day dead Lazarus to get up as if He wasn’t dead. Man and God in one chapter. Understand it? No, believe it: yes, I do! Why? Because the Scriptures are to me the unmistakable revelation of God’s truth. Do I just believe that? Yes and no. My conviction begins with faith but faith isn’t unreasonable. Arthur’s Pink book on the “The Inspiration of the Scriptures” is an excellent and reasoned expose of why it isn’t so far-fetched to believe that the Bible is truly God’s Word.
As you explore other religions, make sure you examine the source, the founder, the practices of the founder and contrast them with the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Son of God! No, don’t judge Christianity on the Christians… there are sadly enough who are called Christians that act worse than heathens. But I don’t judge the value of a car by examining the wrecks! Instead, I value the craftsman who turned a wreck into a beautiful new car again. That’s what the message and power of God’s grace is doing and has done throughout the ages. He is turning ‘wrecked lives and corrupted and fallen people’ into new creatures. However, even the best of God’s people are still in the ‘construction stage’ here on earth and prone to fall and fail.
So, what kind of a God are the Christians serving? The real answer is even more beautiful than you will expect: They are serving a God Who is serving them! And He has so deeply served them that I challenge you to find me any god that equal His serving! Who is a King and God like Him Who has loved and is loving like He is? To love someone really is to share a persons need or even changing places with them. That’s why it is easy to love a person who is nice, has it all together, is stable and never does stupid things. But try love one who is emotionally damaged, completely messed up, wounded and falters every day into another messy situation. To guide such a person is the most emotionally draining experience.
That’s how God is entering into the lives of people. He has ‘drained Himself’ (I speak humanly about it) when He gave His Only Son to make Him the sacrifice for sinners. Oh, how I love this God who so deeply bowed, deeper than any human can ever comprehend. John Stott wrote: “The essence of sin is we human being substituting ourselves for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for us. We put ourselves where only God deserves to be but God puts Himself where we deserve to be.”
By all means, don’t give up on true Christianity. There is no substitute, not even one that comes close. Wisdom is justified in its children or we know the tree by its fruits. In that regard look at the fruits or the children of God’s actions to see what the God of the Scripture is like. As Jesus said, If you can’t believe WHO I am (that I am in the Father and the Father in me) then believe Me for WHAT I am (believe me for the very works’ sake)” (John 14:11). That is a reasonable approach!
Dr. Ironside was once challenged when he gave a public lecture on Christianity. At the end of the presentation he was handed a piece of paper with the request: “I will debate you on the merits of atheism tomorrow evening… all cost paid by me.” As he looked at the piece of paper and considered the request, he responded: “I accept the challenge under one condition. Both of us need to take along 10 examples of people whose lives have dramatically improved as result of embracing the creed in which they have believed.” The next day he received a response: “Challenge withdrawn.”
Dear friend, don’t give up on God, don’t up on Jesus Christ, don’t give up on the Holy Spirit. Without Him you will backwards and will never become the freed creature that you crave to be. May the Spirit of God bless these few thoughts to make you search more into the right direction.
Pastor A. T. Vergunst,
Waupun, WI USA
- Kerkelijke gezindte:Gereformeerde Gemeenten
- Woon/standplaats:Carterton (Nieuw-Zeeland)