When I was very active in the biblioblogging community there were more than a handful of folks I’d interact with on a regular basis. I still have contact with many of them through Twitter (and even this blog I suppose) but some I lost track of. Every now and again I’ll think back on a conversation I had in the comments to a blog post and wonder whatever happened to so-and-so.
I woke up this morning and thought about a fellow named Drew Tatusko. Last I remember, Drew was maintaining a blog called Notes from Off Center. So I thought I’d Google Drew and see what he’s been up to. After a few clicks I found that he has a new blog called Mind Squirrel and I came across a post entitled “Living Lent Free.” In this post Drew has announced that nearly a year ago he decided to give up on God. I’ll let you read the whole thing and form your own thoughts but I thought to myself, “wow, that’s a shame.”
I’ve contemplated abandoning faith quite a few times over the years but in the end I always come to the same conclusion: there’s nothing on the other side. Forget trite notions like happiness. I can be relatively happy without being Christian. In fact, I used to be exactly that. I can’t say that I’m any happier as a Christian. I still get frustrated and angry and have bad days just like I did before God saved me. The day to day affairs of life haven’t gotten any easier since I’ve become a believer; in many ways things are more difficult now.
Fear isn’t a motivator either. I have no fear about looking stupid for renouncing my beliefs. There was a time when I told people that I was God and I said it with a straight face. I had all kinds of thoughts about the universe and life and they were almost all incorrect. It wasn’t a big deal for me to say I was wrong when I found out that I was and it wouldn’t be a big deal now. I’d add that I really don’t fear letting people down either. People are resilient; they’d get over my apostasy. Plenty of folks have disappointed us but life goes on.
And while I’m on the subject of fear I’ll admit that the initial fear of hell is what got me into a church but it’s not the main thing that keeps me in one (I definitely don’t want to go to hell though). I used to work with a kid who said that if death bed confessions of faith were possible (and I certainly believe that they are) then he couldn’t see why everyone wouldn’t just wait until then to become believers. My response was that he was laboring under the assumption that sin was better than salvation. It’s not. Sin is bondage.
The fact is that I’m free in Christ. With this freedom comes a joy that I didn’t have before, and I do differentiate that joy from happiness. This freedom also brings a peace that I didn’t have prior to faith. It also gives me hope and confidence and motivation to do things that are pleasing to God and helpful to others. I wish the folks who read my blog could have known me before Christ. I was a selfish, arrogant, lying, stealing, cheating jerk. And that’s the mild way of putting it.
Now when I’ve contemplated leaving the faith I’ve thought about what life would be like and I’ve come to the conclusion that it would be horrible. I suppose I could fool myself into thinking that I could be a good dude without God in my life. The truth is that I couldn’t. I wouldn’t even want to try. If anything, I think I’d be worse now than I was then. I’m a lot older and have a lot more life experience and could use all of that to be even more manipulative than I was (which was pretty ridiculously manipulative). I couldn’t imagine what I’d find meaning in to be honest. If I wasn’t a Christian then I’d be a nihilist.
But the reality is that once I know something is true I can’t un-know it. I can only lie to myself and try to believe something else. I know God exists. That’s never gonna change. I know that the Father sent his Son into the world to live, suffer, die, and rise again so that I could be freed from the bondage of sin. I know that all sounds very Christian; like I’m just rehearsing a script. Well it is, and I am, but only because I know that the Christian Scriptures are true. I can’t un-know that. I’ve seen the objections and arguments against my beliefs and when weighed in the balance I’ve found them wanting. There really is nothing on the other side.