First of all, I have learned that Christianity is very diverse (theologically, doctrinally and even culturally). Being Christian is belonging to a globally diverse group of people who trace their traditions, practices and beliefs to the same source, but yet practice and implement their faith differently. In some instances, we believe different things and come to different conclusions about the same historical text, our same common heritage, history and traditions.
Seeing that we come from such diversity, as a Christian I have been forced to learn to cope with uncertainty and such diversity. This includes learning that it is wrong to force your convictions on others within the faith. You cannot believe that everyone must believe as you do and that everyone ought to see and know what you see and know. Even within the same denominations, I have observed and learned that there are differences of opinions on even the same denominational heritage. As such, in order to maintain unity, a Christian must operate within this diversity and learn to respect the convictions of others, even if one personally disagrees.
In essence, I have learned that I can't force anyone to believe what I do. I can only present my personal convictions to others and let the Holy Spirit do the rest of the work of either reproving me for error or correcting my brethren (or sistren).
Hence much of the work of evangelism is personal. We need to study, pray and meditate upon the scriptures, events and even nature to arrive at convictions about what is right and wrong. Then we need to share our convictions, revelations and justifications (or proofs) with others and let them personally decide for themselves whether or not they are also convicted and persuaded as we are.
Hence, I believe Christians must have the freedom to arrive at our own conclusions and share those conclusions with others. However, we must also give others the freedom to disagree without judging dissenters as being hell-bound.
Today, I find myself at the crossroad of being skeptic of dogma, traditions and doctrines, especially if I perceive these as being modern inventions with little historical roots in 1st century Christianity. I am further suspicious of denominational leaders as I know that many have received their theology degrees under the study and supervision of unbelieving Bible scholars. [This is one of the reasons why I do not want to be a pastor, though I feel the calling.]
I consider myself as an explorer within the Christian ideological landscape. I have a map, (a centuries old text written about historical events, peoples and lands). I also have tour guides (translators, pastors and spiritual leaders), who provide annotation and commentary to guide my understanding of the map (unto salvation). However, even with the map and the guides, one still has to uncover for oneself the meaning and understanding of the Christian frontier and find the way that leads to eternal life.
Today, more than ever, I find that Christianity is more about dialogue and conversation than it is about sermons (at least the non-interactive ones). I must have my own personal convictions about Bible "truths", but must also be willing to listen to others and understand how they may see those "truths" differently from me. I must have my own spiritual priorities, but still be willing to accept that other Christians order their spiritual priorities differently. At the end, it about our own convictions and on how God sees our work and faith that matters. Did he give you a particular light that you have refused or rejected? Did he give you a personal instruction or calling that you have not obeyed?
- Is there a call on your life that you are rejecting?
- Are you going to be like Terah and die before you fulfill what God has called you to do?