It is so important to think through what you believe in. If you don’t really know, and don’t really understand what drives you and what is important to you - your life can be marked with struggles. Without an exception the people I have observed going through life never standing up for a specific set of beliefs eventually feel dissatisfied about pretty much everything. Sometimes I think people are afraid to believe in anything because they don’t want to run the risk of upsetting other people. Sometimes I think people are afraid to express their beliefs because they don’t want to offend others or maybe they are embarrassed because they don’t really have solid support for their opinions and are at a loss to defend them if someone were to offer a challenge. And sometimes I think people just really don’t know what they think about things because they don’t spend much time contemplating life.
There are numerous examples in the Bible of people who knew what they believed in and pursued it wholeheartedly despite the opinions of those around them. Noah would be a prime example - he built the ark at a time when the people didn’t even know what rain was. They mocked him and his family for building such a monstrosity of a boat. But Noah knew what he believed and he believed - even though he had never seen rain - that God was going to make it rain - a lot.
Abraham left his family and security to move to a land he didn’t know much about - but he believed God’s promises to make a great nation through him. I could easily continue adding to this list. The point is these men did great things by pursuing wholeheartedly the things they believed in.
There are also many examples in our world of people who understood the importance of standing up for something. Martin Luther King, Jr believed in equality wholeheartedly and stood up to a society which would have preferred for him to go away. Mother Theresa is probably the greatest example of unconditional love our society has ever had. No matter what people thought or how they treated her she moved forward and loved and did what she could to help ease suffering and pain. She believed in unconditional love.
I could go on and on and on listing examples of people who decided what they believed in and chose to stand for it. I worry sometimes we are not doing a good enough job teaching our kids to be thinkers, capable of knowing what they believe, understanding it enough to defend it, and coming to the decision they will stand for what they believe no matter what. I think it really boils down to thinking. It is true it would be so much easier to just tell our kids about God, and have them mindlessly fall into faith and, like Lemmings, be part of the church and follow the Bible’s teachings. But we are not dealing with Lemmings - we are dealing with human beings. And human beings are infinitely complex and critical thinkers. Rather than having young people who just mindlessly follow Mom and Dad’s footsteps - what if we had young people who spent time thinking about what the Bible teaches and compared it to their life experiences and decided how it all fits together in their lives? I think it is good to question and explore God’s Word. It is good to challenge the Bible when it doesn’t seem to fit with how the world is.
When you challenge and explore - you learn and grow. Sometimes I think we are afraid to allow our kids to question their faith because we have a limited understanding of what we believe and therefore are, on some levels, afraid it cannot hold up to scrutiny. I promise you - it can! And the deeper young people look into the Bible and strive to understand the what and why of it all - the more deeply they will be challenged to think it through. It is good to wrestle with the Truths in God’s Word - we are promised it is sharper than any two-edged sword and will never return void. I believe that and I think the critical thinking process is significantly important in helping people to become grounded in what they believe. Without it we end up with a society of individuals who say they are Christians and have a vague connection with the Bible and its stories, but never have an answer for those who question and wish to raise doubts.
If you believe God is real - think deeply about it. Why do you believe that? Because someone else told you to? Because of what the Bible says about Him? What, specifically, in the Bible convinces you? Maybe things that have happened in your life convicted you? What happened? Why did that help you to believe God is real? Maybe it is something somebody told you? Something you read? Can you express to other people WHY you believe what you believe? The apostle Paul’s example has held so much influence over me and my life. He told his story again and again - personalizing why he believe what he believed. He had an answer. He had opinions. He had support for his opinions. He helped a lot of people find God and begin to experience their own life-changes.
It is so important to think through these things and to understand why we believe what we believe. When difficult times or challenges come, and they always will, we will have solid footing to stand on and a durable faith.