I have struggled with my faith over the last few years, not necessarily with believing in the existence of God but more around the day-to-day practice of my faith.
There was this nagging question about whether or not I was a good Christian, which eventually made me stop going through the motions.
I stopped going to church (this was easy because I had classes for professional exams on the weekends). I read the YouVersion verse for the day and nothing extra because I needed to understand why something that I had practised all my life left me feeling anxious and unhappy.
The culture of questioning and digging into the scriptures to find answers as an individual isn’t promoted. Yes, we are encouraged to have devotions, but carefully printed outlines guide them; this serves a purpose but doesn’t substitute for actually sitting and freely studying the Bible.
So I started to do just that, study. I wanted to understand David’s story, not the abridged version I was taught in Sunday school because, for a man after God’s heart, he engaged in practices the church would condemn him for today. I read books in the New Testament repeatedly, explored Isaiah and didn’t understand many chapters, but I read on anyway.
The more I studied, the more the words came alive in my heart in a way they hadn’t ever before. I started to see connections for myself, like Psalms written by David that I could find the corresponding stories for in the books of Samuel, Kings or Chronicles. It helped me appreciate the Psalms and I started journaling my prayers, writing exactly how I felt to the Lord and laying it bare.
I think I understand why David was a man after God’ heart; he simply went into God’s presence as he was, he didn’t attempt to sugarcoat his feelings or what his experiences were in the moment and simply let it all out at God’s feet.
In my unravelling, I realised where my problem stemmed from; my introduction to Christ-focused on what I should and shouldn’t do. Sin was lifted higher than God’s love, leading to a vicious circle of guilt and no real transformation. Instead, there was anger in place of peace and kindness, judgement in place of compassion, and measuring others by the yardstick of what sins I have sufficiently stayed away from.
It is cliche but you will never enjoy being a Christian till you understand God’s love, until you understand the simplicity of coming just as you are.
This is an evolving idea, I have twenty-odd years to organise religion to unpack, but if you read to the end, can you answer the simple question of why you practice the faith you do.