A Conversation Earlier Today.

“I believe in God and all that Christianity stands for — I believe it. I’ve asked Jesus in my heart several times. I’ve followed Christ, I’ve fallen away, I’ve rededicated my life — but I’ve never felt any different. Nothing has ever changed. I followed Christian thought for years – but anymore I’m not really even interested in searching for God.” -A friend of mine.

What encouragement might you have for my friend?

10 Replies to “A Conversation Earlier Today.”

  1. Hmmm….your friend sounds like he (or she) is going through exactly what I’ve been going through.

    The church is typically the primary source for all things Christian. (It should be the Bible, but somehow we’ve let it become the church.) If your friend is anything like me, he hasn’t been following CHRIST-ian thought, he has been following church thought. He needs to start following Christ’s thinking. He needs to stop believing in God and start believing God.

    He needs to realize that serving God is not something that comes out of his emotions or feelings. I did not have an emotional experience when I finally accepted Christ. Because of the way the church emphasizes our experiences and stories, it took me years to come to terms with this. I spent more than half of my life struggling with the fact that I hadn’t had an experience, therefore I must not really be saved, yet. It was devastating. And, the Christians around me just made it worse. They were intently focused on their experiences.

    I began to study the Bible in a desperate attempt to find answers. Unfortunately, I also began to explore several other religions (Buddhism, Islam, Zoroaster, Native American spirituality, and several others). I started to discover that men, people, sometimes have experiences, and then they expect others to have similar experiences. So, they begin to teach that what they experienced is how it should be, and they would make the Bible fit their experience (I could get into a long dissertation on tongues here, or on leading people to Christ through friendship evangelism, or on physically feeling the burden of sin lift, but I won’t).

    My experience eventually becomes a part of my relationship with God, but that experience is secondary to the relationship itself. I MUST put experience aside and consider the facts that the Bible presents. If my experience lines up with it, that’s fine and dandy, but if it doesn’t line up with it I must continue to discipline myself, even if it’s hard. I must not ever forsake the truth because I’m waiting on an experience. The experience may never come, but that doesn’t change the truth.

    I hope this is making sense. I have been through this very thing, and I really want to reach out to people who are in a similar situation. Frankly, one of the most destructive things I faced as I went through it was what I was told by people at church, and worse, what I was told by pastors. Christians have a tendency to bury their heads in the sand so that they don’t get confused by the facts, and pastors don’t want people to think for themselves…they want to spoon feed the people. Or so it seems.

    You have a ton of ways to contact me, I would be MORE than happy to offer any advice, or even have a conversation with this person.

  2. Addendum.

    If I could offer one big piece of advice: STAY AWAY FROM EXPERIENCE!!!!!!!!!! This person is not having a “conversion experience”, so don’t drive home the fact that you, or anybody else, have. This is just going to discourage them. The Bible says, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1) It’s OK to not have an experience. Faith is remaining resolute in spite of the lack of experience. Paul tells us, in Romans 4, that Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith. Whether or not Abraham had an experience is beside the point…Abraham believed God and it was counted as righteousness…he founded, in a manner of speaking, the Jewish nation, because he believed God, not because of an experience.

  3. adam,
    i would advise to use experience to your advantage, not to ignore it. It seems to me his whole question is about experience. if you ignore it, you are ignoring the very essence of his question.

    reinforce it’s okay to feel quiet from God. it happens to us all. But certainly don’t ignore the meat of his question.
    If you have a good relationship, I would recommend you offer a challenge to him to really dig in, be real and seek God earnestly for 60 days. give him practical goals. very practical. and check up on him weekly.
    it’s one thing to believe in Christianity. it’s quite another to earnestly seek out an experience.

    Oh, the most important thing: pray for the wild journey! woohoo!

  4. I agree with both points. Experience is too often put up as “The Way” (Chinese “Tao”), which is not the best because experience is subjective. But, that’s the exact reason why your experiences can be an effective tool. Share with him how you have felt, how you have dealt with these things (assuming you have). So, don’t put too much emphasis on experiential stuff, but don’t throw it out either. My $.02 on that issue.

    Now, my advice. Get away. Get out. Leave your cell phone. Leave your computer. Go to the woods. Find God in His world. Sounds like your friend needs a Wilderness Encounter. Jesus prayed wherever He was, true, but He often went alone to the wild places to commune with His father. Tell your friend to leave behind all he knows about God. Go to the wilderness and actually meet Him there!

    The above assumes your friend is male. If female, I have no idea. Ask my wife.

  5. Maybe all who are reading this particular entry should join in prayer for this disillusioned person to find the way to a relationship that is fulfilling in Christ. Often we talk a situstion to death and come no closer to an answer. In prayer we seek answers but most importantly we seek Christ who is the answer. Time to be doers of the Word not just talkers. todd, that’s my .25 worth as inflation keeps arising! hehe patti

  6. First off, I’m right there with you PattiT! I have been praying…Like I said, I’ve been there, and I hate to see anyone else there.

    Adam, if there is anything I can explain to you out of my own experience (yeah, yeah, I know), I would be more than happy to. If it can give you an inside look at what might be going through his (her?) head…

    And, I should probably clarify what I said about staying away from experience. I don’t mean that we should ignore experience, but if someone isn’t having it, and you talk about how much you have it, or have had it, it comes off as though you are rubbing it in their face, as though you are somehow better than them, or have something that they don’t.

    Life is bound to bring us experiences. Whether we seek them or not, they will come, both good and bad. Faith, on the other hand, is something we must pursue, we must work for. It is something that we grab hold of and never let go. We must be tenacious about it. It stands when experience fails, or never comes. It remains true when subjective experience lies to us. (Faith in the God of the Bible…just to be clear). Faith carries us through when we have nothing left to go on. Faith is a decision made in the mind and kept in the heart. A deicision made in faith last for eternity, a decision made from experience lasts until the next experience teaches you differently. An experience that matches your faith drives your faith harder and stronger, and makes it more secure.

    Hope for the experience. Hope for a wild encounter. Look for it. But, don’t be discouraged if, or when, it doesn’t come. Make a decision to be rooted in unwavering faith.

    That’s what I really meant, but it didn’t come out that way at 3:45 in the morning. 😀

  7. joe, I wasn’t inferring that you or anyone else weren’t praying just suggesting the joining together in unity all who are reading or posting to this thought. Instead of just debating it or discussing it, maybe try to pray together for this particular person. With all the effort being expended towards discussion being put into intercessory prayer for him what might God? patti

  8. The truth is, no one can really tell your friend anything that will make the situation feel better right in the here and now. Think back on a time where you felt empty, or as if God were a million miles away. Really, no single thing you did made that feeling go away…it was only time. Though the thought of time and “waiting things out” really makes things seem even worse, since there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel, assure your friend that there are SO many people who are there, have been there, and will be there. This is a not a question of his spirituality-it’s a time of wilderness, and those times are hard. No doubt about it. (I’m sure you’ve already asked him to weed out any sin that may be the root of this, so I won’t dig into that.)
    But my advice is just to wait this out with him. Pour into him all the love, patience, and friendship you can. Don’t pressure him to “feel” things, or to “take five steps that will mend his relationship with God.” Be real, and just love on him. Your life, your words, your experiences, and your love will surely show him what it is to truly be in love with God…without having a formula to figure it out. It challenges and encourages me everytime I talk to you.

    (Hi, everyone! See you in a few weeks!)

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