Our world and culture are becoming more secular and non-religious. Many people are turning their backs on the church and on Christianity. However, they aren’t turning their backs entirely on the idea of believing in a divine nature. These people are claiming to be spiritual, yet not affiliated with one religion in particular.
As a young person, I find this point of view is very common among millennials (born 1981-1996) and the older half of Gen Z (born 1997 or later). It isn’t popular to be a Christian–or subscribe to any specific religious ideology in this day and age. Although I am a young person of faith, I see where these people are coming from. Committing to a religious ideology that to the outside world seems homophobic, discriminative, and hypocritical is not good–nor is that really an accurate perception of Christianity. I believe that Christianity gets a bad rep, but there are valid reasons as to why.
I grew up in the Bible belt of America as a pastor's daughter. I did not embrace the conservative beliefs of many of the people around me.. The narrow perspectives of some biblical interpretations left me, my gay friends and family, and my other minority friends feeling like outcasts. I totally understand why people turn their back on Christianity: It’s because the church turned its back on them.
Searching for a new perspective on faith
I turned my back on the church and Christianity when I went to college. However, I did not let go of my spirituality during that season of deconstructing my faith. Scrolling through my social media feed one day, I happened upon a sponsored ad from a local church group in Chattanooga. The ad was promoting a Bible study called Jesus and the Bible for nonbelievers. This caught my attention. I never heard of a Bible study for non believers before. I decided that since I was committed to spiritual growth, I would sign up for this Bible study.
This Bible study was unlike any other Bible study I had been to growing up in the church. The leader of the Bible study was also a pastor of a local church here in Chattanooga. The first week of the study he made a chart of almost all the different religions, new age ideologies, and belief systems. He gave us each one's belief statement, and asked us to find which statements we align ourselves with the most. He started off the study by saying “You chose what you believe. I am only here to answer your questions, and tell you why I believe what I believe to be true.” This surprised me. His goal for this Bible study was not to turn us into Christians. It was to have a conversation about different beliefs, and why he personally believes Jesus’s teachings.
As the weeks went on so did my questions. It came to a point where people left and I was the only one still digging for answers. He finally said, “Madison you are always going to question, and that is a good thing. However, at some point you should decide if you have enough answers to make a choice as to what you believe.”
Through this Bible study for nonbelievers I learned the importance of spiritual commitment to Christ. You cannot force someone to come to faith. You can try, but it wouldn’t be a true commitment. The pastor of this study met me where I was. He provided a safe space for us to ask the hard questions, and allowed us to make up our minds freely without forcing any agenda.
God’s commitment to us
This is a reflection of God. One of the beautiful things about God is that God does not force you to believe. God wants you to come to belief because you choose to for yourself. That is true commitment.
I am a yoga instructor, involved in the art community, and a lover of holistic living. As part of these culture groups, I hear a lot of talk about spiritual growth, taking time to connect with your spirit, and prayer. However, all of this spiritual talk is not clearly defined. it curates vague ambiguities, and has no solid foundation of truth or what truth is. I think that all the ambiguity can allow corrupt ideologies to seep in if we are not steadfast in Christ.
Spiritual commitment to Jesus eliminates that ambiguity. Scripture defines what our spiritual commitment should look like. In Matthew 22:37-38 Jesus says “You should love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.”
The Lord loves us so much that God sent Jesus so that we may have a relationship with God. The Lord does not force this, instead God reaches down into our reality, and provides ways for us to connect wherever we may be in our spiritual journey. It is up to us whether or not we will have a committed relationship with Christ.
Madison Myers is a student at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, majoring in marketing. She has traveled to a majority of America's National Parks and is eager to see them all.