“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” I Peter 3:15 (NIV)
I’ve been reading a great book called Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi. This is a book that cannot be read lightly because when read slowly, it causes one to think, really think about the struggles Muslims face when introduced to the truths of Christianity. For three years, Mr. Qureshi sought after the truth and that path led to his choosing to accept Jesus into his heart, fully submitting to God despite what it would ultimately cost him in his culture and with his family.
I believe that God used that book in my life to remind me of a few things. First, I am incredibly blessed. When I gave my heart to God at six years old, I didn’t have to make a choice between my Heavenly Father and my earthly Father. I wasn’t sad because I had a family who rejected me and my “religion” but instead I was brought up in a home where God was the center and learning about Him and His truth was something to be embraced, not rejected.
Second, I believe God used that book to remind me of a truth I have always believed in and tried to implement in my everyday life: to live a life that imitates Christ means to love others, build relationships and fellowship with others. Not judging their choices but living side by side and showing them God’s love through my actions more than my words.
However, that brings me to the third point I think God wanted to show me. There needs to be more. I can’t just rely on the fact I’m showing others Jesus’ love by my actions – I have to know the Truth behind what I believe in because people are hungry for the Truth. While an emotional connection with God will come because God is very much alive and so incredibly personal to every human being who seeks Him, for many, it starts with Truth. Why do I believe what I believe? Can I back up my beliefs with facts? People aren’t impressed and many don’t change their way of life, their cultures, their practices because of a “feeling.” They want to know that if they have to risk everything, who and what they are risking it for.
Mr. Qureshi stated that one of the major factors that helped lead him to Christianity was the deep friendship he and his college buddy, David, had with each other. David wasn’t afraid to confront Nabeel with the truth and Nabeel was able to accept it because of the solid friendship that was already established between the two of them.
I will admit that I am not where I need to be with that third Truth. I need to learn more of why I believe what I believe and be able to explain that coherently to others who are truly seeking. I believe that is one of the best gifts we could give our children too – knowing how to defend their faith and knowing why they believe what they believe. It doesn’t have to be scary but it will require time and effort to uncover those answers.
I’m an emotional person. If given the choice, I would rather read a biography about a person’s life than a text book. And that’s okay. God created me to be relational with people for a reason. However, it’s time I start digging a little deeper so that when people ask, I can give them facts that back up the Truths I know to be reality. May God help me balance out building relationships with people so that when we have discussions about God’s Truth, they will see my heart. I’m not here to force them to choose my way. I’m just here presenting them God’s Truth to allow them to make that choice for themselves.
© Cheri Swalwell 2016