Find Me

Find new posts at!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Why I Believe: Experiential

Let me tell you why I believe the gospel, experientially speaking.

(Incidentally, when it comes right down to it, when I am most inclined to doubt, this is the area of argument for belief that is most convincing to me.  But it is the least convincing to me when someone else tells me about their own experiences.  In other words, I gain great assurance from my own experiences but am largely unpersuaded by the experiences of others, unless perhaps it is someone I am very close to.  I don't know if I'm unique in this or not.)

I believe because of so many times that I have been in prayer or worship and I have gotten very emotional, with tears, out of nowhere.  Or when I have read a passage of Scripture again and again and narrowed it down to a verse or a sentence or a phrase or even a word, and there seems to be more there than mere words, and I feel a deep sense of something awesome like I'm standing at the edge of Niagara Falls when there is nothing in the room but me and my Bible.

I believe because of times that I've felt just like this in the presence of other Christians.  Sometimes it is in worship or prayer.  Sometimes it is when I'm being preached to and sometimes it is when I am preaching.

I believe because of the times that I've been with certain other Christians who give off a strange aura as if they're operating on another plane, like these elderly fellows (R.I.P., Clair Yingling).  It's not their experiences with God that hit me—it's that I feel like I'm experiencing God as long as I'm in the room with them.

I believe because after many times that I told people about Jesus, hopefully moving them a bit closer to the kingdom, I sat in an Italian restaurant in Newark, New Jersey with my friend Joe, and he eagerly prayed with me to turn his life over to Christ.  I believe because in the years that followed he always seemed to know the question to ask to grow in his faith before I could tell him what he needed next.  Similarly, I believe because of the countless times that I've known what someone needed to hear from the word of God and spoke it without knowing that I knew it.

I believe because of moments when I've heard God speak to me in response to my prayers to him.  It's always been inside my head, and it generally sounds like my voice.  What distinguishes it from me talking to myself is that it tells me things that I wouldn't think up, and occasionally things that the rest of my being utterly recoils against.  That to me is the proof that it's not coming from me.  It started for the first time in 3rd grade when God helped me find my winter glove in my locker when the rest of my classmates were outside at recess.  It thundered in my mind when he told me to switch my college major to Bible two weeks before I started, and I knew that my call to pastoral ministry had begun (a longer story).  But in more recent years I've heard it often, even daily at times.  I've heard it enough that I know who it is when he speaks.

I believe because, slowly and with fits and starts but surely, I appear to be becoming a better person, and this seems to be closely associated with the time I try to spend with God as I mentioned above.  I believe because I not only feel guilty when I do something wrong but because after I seek God I eventually get a certainty of forgiveness and innocence that conforms to what the Bible says and flies in the face of the reality of my actions.

These things might not mean much to you, and that's okay; I don't expect them to.  They mean a great deal to me.  But you need your own experiences; no one else's will do.

So this is why I believe the gospel, experientially speaking.  Why do you believe?

No comments:

Post a Comment