Everything that exists had a starting point . . . including you. You may have started on purpose. You may have started by accident (from your parents' perspective). You may even have started through the magic of medical science. Whatever the circumstances, you had a starting point, and it began before you were aware of it.
Physical life is one of many starting points. Your formal education had a starting point. Your career had a starting point. Your romantic life had a starting point. Your experience as a parent had a starting point.
Faith has a starting point as well.
Framework for Faith:
- God is good.
- God punishes evil and rewards good.
- God answers prayer.
- God speaks.
For many of us, the framework we were handed as children did not survive the realities and rigors of adulthood.
"...many of us have been left stranded with an incoherent concept of God. We learned about God at about the same time as we were told about Santa Claus. But while our understanding of the Santa Claus phenomenon evolved and matured, our theology remained somewhat infantile. Not surprisingly, when we attained intellectual maturity, many of us rejected the God we had inherited and denied that he existed."
-Karen Armstrong, The Case for God
Adults often need a new starting point.
"The Bible says" is not an adequate starting or returning point for many adults. In fact, it was never intended to be the starting point for the Christian faith.
Acts 17:16-20, 22-34a - While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city. He went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and he spoke daily in the public square to all who happened to be there. He also had a debate with some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. When he told them about Jesus and his resurrection, they said, “What’s this babbler trying to say with these strange ideas he’s picked up?” Others said, “He seems to be preaching about some foreign gods.” Then they took him to the high council of the city. “Come and tell us about this new teaching,” they said. “You are saying some rather strange things, and we want to know what it’s all about.” So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about. “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone. “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.” When they heard Paul speak about the resurrection of the dead, some laughed in contempt, but others said, “We want to hear more about this later.” That ended Paul’s discussion with them, but some joined him and became believers.
- When you think about God’s involvement with the world, what are three words that come to mind?
- What one thing do you most associate with Jesus?
- Talk about a story, person, or experience that has influenced the way you look at God.
- Share about a time when you realized that life was bigger than just you. How did that experience change the direction of your life?
- How and when did your faith journey get started?
- How would you currently describe your perspective on faith?
- How well has your faith held up under the rigors of life?
God did something outrageous in this outrageous world he created. He wants you to know about it because it has personal implications for you. The starting point for adult faith is not a Bible story. It's not even the Bible. It’s a question: “Who is this Jesus?”
"Who is Jesus?"
The starting point for adult faith is a person. Jesus came to remove the mystery, to make what was previously unknown, known. Jesus came to bring light to a dark world.
CHANGING YOUR MIND
“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” -John 12:46