Make the Faith Your Own

When I was a young man – I am ashamed to say – I made a lot of bad choices in life. One of those choices led me to hang out at the back of a country music “honky-tonk,” with some of my musician friends on the weekends. I was intrigued by being in a band and performing live music. Since I was too young at the time to get into the bar, my buddies would leave the back door open so that I could watch and listen to the band from their perspective. Sadly, by this time in my life, I was already beginning to doubt the Bible and waning in any faith or spirituality that my parents had tried to instill in me by raising me in the church. Then, to put the “final nail in the coffin,” I saw deacon Johnson out on the dance floor of that honky-tonk that night with some woman who was not his wife!

That was enough proof for me. Christianity was a farce! That same man would be at church the next morning, with Bible in hand, talking about sinners going to hell. Yet, here he was, in all his hypocritical glory, participating in sin! (Of course, I was ignoring the fact that I was also participating in sinful activities). But that was it. I was done with church. I was done with God. I was done pretending to be a Christian. To me, the whole thing was a complete waste of time. Once I was old enough to leave the house and get out on my own, I never stepped foot into a church again. As far as I was concerned, Christian “faith” was a fool’s errand.

This is my story of why I left the church. I have since heard many variations of this same story from other people. In fact, there are a few disgruntled souls on YouTube who complain about why they left the church of Christ and basically, their story has many of the same elements as mine. However, my story, and the majority of the others, all have one thing in common, one fatal flaw, one grand fallacy – we all put our faith in men instead of God. We viewed human beings as our example of Christianity instead of learning about it from the Bible. We mistakenly considered the church a human organization instead of the divine, living organism it truly is. We allowed our faith to be affected by others, or grounded in our parents or friends, instead of making the faith our own.

Psalm 118:8 says, “It is better to trust in the LORD Than to put confidence in man.” Then, later in Psalm 146:3, we find these inspired words, “Do not trust in princes, In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.” Jesus Himself taught, “Have faith in God’ (Mark 11:22) and “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also … ” John 14:4-7). Those are powerful, sobering words!

I have since learned that I was utterly mistaken. I have learned that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil (2 Corinthians 5:10). So, the bottom line is this, it doesn’t matter what someone else says or does concerning Christianity, it doesn’t matter if my family are Christians or not, I have to answer for myself. I have to stand before the throne of God all alone and give an account for my actions. Deacon Johnson has nothing to do with my salvation. My mom or dad cannot vouch for me and get me into heaven on their good merit. I cannot appeal to what someone said or did as an excuse as to why I rejected God’s free gift of grace. I will be held accountable for myself and myself alone.

I thank God I learned that lesson before it was too late! So, parents, help your children learn what it means to make the faith their own. Young people, I hate to admit it, but we older people will most likely let you down if our example is the sole basis for your faith. Yes, even leaders in the church will make mistakes and sometimes commit sin. But they are human beings, flawed human beings. Don’t rest your faith in them. Instead, “look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2) because “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12). Make the faith your own!