One of the most common reactions from Christians toward ExChristians like me is this:
You left the faith because you didn’t believe in the first place.
A recent exchange on YouTube took that turn.
You can read the entire exchange here. (To see my post, don’t forget to select “Newest posts first”.)
The exchange ended amicably but at one point mid-way through our conversation, the commenter posted: “One thing is certain ……you had NO FAITH in what you believed.”
Obviously, no one can know for “certain” if I was a true believer in Christ or not. But there certainly are clues.
Jesus’ words written in Luke 14:33 say: Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.
My husband and I believed that we’d been called by God to missionary service. Our pursuit for the answer to where we should go eventually landed us smack in the middle of the third world. Africa. We thought God’s plan was for us to be career missionaries. So, at that point, the words, “…give up everything,” took on a whole new meaning for us. Let’s unpack that…
In preparation for leaving for Africa, we sold everything we owned except the clothes we’d need. All of it.
If you’re home right now, look around you. Start calculating. What’s that look like to sell all your possessions? How many items will be hard to let go? Are there gifts and treasures that have sentimental value? China from your grandmother, perhaps? The throw she took six months to knit just for you?
I prayed over my stuff, hoping God would direct it into the right hands because I believed Jesus meant, “everything”.
Our first “baby” was a dog. Any dog lover knows to say he’s your baby isn’t a stretch. Buddy loved to crawl under the sheets with us at bedtime and lay his head on the pillow.
We hunted for weeks to find just the right home for him. I prayed hard every day for the right family to adopt him. My stomach was in knots for days before we finally drove him to his new home and kissed him goodbye forever.
Buddy sat on the porch, anxiously wagging his tail as we drove away. I wonder how long it took him to adjust to the fact that we weren’t coming back. I prayed for him for a long time.
But Jesus said, “everything”.
My job had evolved into friendships and camaraderie. It was a tough place to work, but there were two people specifically that became like family to me. Treasured friendships. On top of that, it was pretty good money given my lack of skills.
In faith, I bid farewell to those friends and to the financial security and launched into a life of strangers and monthly donations. We’d stepped out in faith, trusting our fellow Christians to keep up their end of the bargain and send the money they promised to support our ministry. I trusted that God had it under control. I left it all behind.
Because Jesus had said, “everything”.
At the time we left, I had a close family member who had a life threatening illness. I’m not being dramatic… she described her life like, “looking down the barrel of a loaded gun”. My prayers for her were constant. But rather than stay and lend my support and see her through the upcoming surgery, I left to follow after the call of God.
Because Jesus said, “everything”.
To this day, I can still remember hugging my mom and dad at the airport, ready to board a plane knowing that we might not return. My dad fought back the tears, and my mother resigned herself to God’s will for her daughter. Come what may.
So, we’re back to the statement: “One thing is certain ……you had NO FAITH in what you believed.” And yet, I gave up everything for what I believed. And I can count on one finger the number of Christian brothers and sisters I know who have done half that much.
So, there’s your clue to my level of belief.
“Everything”. It’s a word, isn’t it?