Last Sunday, a friend of mine was baptized by her local Church community. I could not attend the ceremony, so I sent her the following email instead:
Congratulations on your Baptism last weekend! Seeing the photos you posted and all the well wishes from your friends brought a lot of joy to me. I’m so glad that you have a wonderful community to call your own.
Having been a Christian since high school, I remember the excitement of worshipping, studying, and working with other like-minded people. I spent much of my late teens and early 20s in Christian peer groups and volunteering with my Church’s junior high group as a youth group leader.
I’m sure that many people have given you a lot of great guidance during your walk with Jesus. I will leave you with just 2 bits of advice:
- Never stop questioning. I’m sure that you had a lot of questions that lead you to Jesus: Who am I? What is my purpose? Is there a God? But now that you’ve satisfied those questions, don’t stop there. The Lord did not give us inquisitive minds to let them rot. Keep digging for the truth, especially when you come to roadblocks.
Some of my friends have been involved with some no-so-great churches in the past, with members and even pastors that discourage questioning authority. They have said that they know the answers, because the Lord has ordained them to teach. Well, many preachers over the years have led their flocks astray, because of this brashness and lack of humility. I have unwavering faith in God, but not in people. People can make mistakes, can have huge egos, and can misinterpret the Bible. If you ever hear a teaching that doesn’t sit well with you, don’t be satisfied with the Christian platitudes like “Pray harder” or “Have more faith in God.” Use your mind, your mouth and your will to seek the truth.
I’m not familiar with your Church community, but it looks like a vibrant one. I hope they they will encourage your curiosity.
- Christianity should make you uncomfortable at times. When I was young in my faith, my community focused on self-discovery, through worship, Bible Study, and times of fellowship. While we participated in local work projects and mission trips, they were not the nexus of our Christian experience. It was nice to feel accepted and loved.
But as I grew older, we realized that we can’t live in this Christian bubble forever. Believers need to be in the world, to offer love and hope to those that need it. And we should be exposed to the world’s issues, like injustice, racism and poverty. We should not be insulated from the pain around us. Instead, we should be beacons of light, helping people in times of need, meeting them where they are at. Sometimes, this may be offering food or shelter, sometimes a kind word, or even just a smile,
Thinking about social injustice should be uncomfortable; interactions with people that are different may be, too. But just like physical and emotional maturity can be difficult at times, so should growth in our faith. This life will not be easy, but it will be worth it in the end.