Jellyfish at the Omaha Zoo, Omaha, NE

Take responsibility for what you believe

Does anyone else have to rely on GPS or mapping services like MapQuest or Google Maps to get around? I’m not ashamed to admit that I do. I’m one of those people.

Now, I don’t need them in Wichita, generally. If I know the area, I can pretty much figure out how to get there, but I’m familiar with Wichita streets. But in another city? Like Chicago, where I’m at right now? I’m at the mercy of whatever mapping program is most convenient.

And that means I have to trust whatever information it gives me because I don’t know any better. For all I know, the map I’m reading to could be completely off base. It might be entirely incorrect. And I might be heading in a direction that will cause me a lot of trouble.

Today’s verses are Galatians 1:6-7.

Jellyfish at the Omaha Zoo, Omaha, NE

Jellyfish at the Omaha Zoo, Omaha, NE

I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.

I don’t think I’ve ever used the same Bible verse twice in a row on AlwaysPeachy. But every now and then, more than one concept in a verse strikes me when I read it.

I guess what really stood out to me here was that even in the days of the early Church, there were still people who were trying to dilute the Truth of God’s Word. You’re always going to find those people in any sort of religious institution. The naysayers. The nitpickers. The backstabbers and bickerers.

It’s not limited by denomination, but they do seem to come out of the woodwork in churches that are really making a difference for Christ.

What amazes me is that their fake gospel isn’t always easier than what Jesus originally brought. There are some who come into a church to lead it astray who bring the whole concept of the prosperity gospel. Those are the folks who say if you believe hard enough and do everything God says, He’ll give you everything you as for. And there’s no biblical basis for that.

But then there are the folks who come in and say you have to dress and act a certain way in order for God to accept you. You  have to keep traditions and live by rituals and all that in order to be loved. And there’s no basis for that in the Bible either.

You just have to make sure you always check your sources. If there’s someone in the church you respect and love and they have acted like a mentor to you, that’s wonderful. And you should seek out those relationships. But don’t for a moment think they are always right. Don’t for an instant believe your pastor is always right.

You are responsible for your own faith, and if your faith is misplaced, it’s nobody’s fault but yours.

Where do you check? Well, I can tell you issues of faith are easier to verify than a mapping program. For MapQuest and Google Maps, generally you just have to get there to figure out that the program is wrong. For faith, you have a Bible. You have access to the Scriptures.

Read them. Make it a habit. Do Google searches for keywords. And ask the person who’s telling you what they believe where they learned it.

I’m not saying to suspect everyone of heresy. By no means. But we all need do start taking responsibility for what we believe. If we can do that, not only will our faith be sure, but it’ll be stronger and it’ll be our own.

A ram looking particularly grouchy at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Everyone wrestles with God at some point

Do you know someone who has turned away from his or her faith? It’s a hard thing to observe, especially if it’s someone you love. Because you can’t do anything about it. You can’t talk about it, because that will make it worse. And you can’t ignore it because you’d rather chop off your arm than cut that person out of your life.

A ram looking particularly grouchy at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

A ram looking particularly grouchy at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verses are Galatians 1:6-7.

I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.

This passage is talking to the ones at the Church in Galatia who had decided that following someone else’s “gospel” was a better idea than the Gospel that Paul had brought them. But that’s not what caught my eye about this particular passage.

What caught my attention was Paul’s statement of his shock that the Church was turning away from God “so soon.” In the Greek language, the word is ταχεως, which means quickly or hastily.

Paul was shocked that the Church was turning away from God so soon. So does that mean if it had been later in their walk that he wouldn’t have been as shocked?  It wouldn’t have surprised him if they turned away from God after they’d followed Him for a few years or so?

If that’s the case, there are a couple of things we can learn from that statement, the first of which is that it’s not uncommon for people to get turned around in their faith. It’s not unusual for people to get screwed up. It’s not unusual for people to twist off, especially if they are prone to believing lies disguised as truth.

Everybody struggles. Everyone has something about their faith they don’t like or that they can’t understand or that they wish were clearer. Some people can just accept that God is God and He does what He wants. Others struggle. Others want to know why. And if they aren’t grounded in Scripture, if they aren’t close to God, and if they aren’t really seeking God with everything they are, it’s easy to be led astray.

Because it’s so nice to believe the prosperity gospels. It’s so comforting to believe that we never have to struggle or fight. It’s so much easier to fit in. And it’s so much more fun to do what we want instead of doing what God says is right.

God asks for a lot. His expectations are high. Not for salvation,  because that’s a free gift and we can never afford to pay for it. But the Christian life isn’t easy. It never has been, and it’s not supposed to be. We don’t belong in this world, remember.

So we shouldn’t be surprised when people turn away from their faith after they’ve had it for a while. It shouldn’t shake us. It shouldn’t frighten us.

Maybe someone has some into their life with “gospel” that isn’t really the Gospel, and it’s their choice to believe it or not. But that choice is up to them. That choice is between them and God.

And it may not even mean that they don’t believe it anymore. It may just mean they’re wrestling with God over something they’re being stubborn about.

And the thing about a wrestling match is that more than two people can’t wrestle at a time. More than two people wrestling is a fight. You can’t get between them. You have to let them battle it out.

But what you can do is never stop loving them. Don’t ever turn away from them. And know that if they really belong to the Lord, He won’t let them go. And He’s never lost a wrestling match.

If someone turns away from their faith soon after accepting it, that might be a sign their conversion wasn’t real. But that’s not for us to say either. That’s a heart issue, and only God knows the heart. It’s our job to love regardless and share our faith with everyone we meet.

The one thing we can know for sure is that everybody struggles. We may not know why, and we don’t have to. But we don’t have to stand there gaping with our mouths open when we hear that someone is struggling with their faith. Loosen up those halos, Christian, and admit that you do too.

Don’t be afraid to share those struggles. Don’t be afraid to be honest about the places where you falter and hesitate. Your struggle and your life and your victory may be just what someone else needs to hear to keep them in God’s fold, instead of wandering off with some other shepherd.