How Losing My Faith Helped Me Find (Real) Faith – Part One

There are so many people who, as a result of this fallen world, don’t have loving family members.  Today in the U.S. it is Father’s Day, and some of you reading may be missing your dads, or depressed that you never had a dad, or triggered over bad memories of abusive parents.  I love scripture like John 14:18 about God comforting us through hard days, but it was not truly comforting to me when I could not perceive God as a loving Father.  We have so many negative views of God, some taught by dysfunctional families, some by society, some by mistaken theology in our churches.  I will be writing about one area in which our view of God has been twisted – faith and salvation.  My hope is that it will be freeing and healing to you.  I encourage you to start trying to see God as the extravagant love of Christ crucified; it can be very paradigm shifting, life altering, and heart healing.

Matters of the Heart
by Chris Kennedy
Compliments of CreationSwap

Like many Americans, I always had cultural “Christian” beliefs. And like many evangelicals, I said the “sinner’s prayer” as a child. Looking back, I did understand the message of the Gospel – the good news that Jesus, who was God, died to save us.  However, I had a misunderstanding of why the atonement was necessary, which negatively shaped my view of God (for more on the atonement, go here).  I think I actually believed the Gospel, too, at least intellectually. I read the Bible (however out of context) and I held my right beliefs tightly as the most important thing in this life. I likely would have died for them. Therefore, I quickly rejected anything that challenged them.

It took my heart being broken – several different ways which overlapped on a messy timeline of a couple years – to really shake me. One of the major ways was learning about animal cruelty:

I had always believed that most animals were raised as humanely as they were on my small family farm, but I discovered that this is not true for 99% of the animal products purchased in stores and restaurants, regardless of deceptive “humane” labels. In light of all the evidence that animal products cause massive suffering for both animals and humans (go here to learn more), I had to admit that my former beliefs were wrong. This was the start of becoming a free and critical thinker.

It gave me peace to know I was no longer consuming violence, but I struggled to keep believing in God’s goodness, especially when I saw other professing Christians use religion to justify oppression based on species (or gender, or nationality, or other discriminating factors that don’t matter in the kingdom of God). I was so tormented by it that I wanted to reject any belief in God. But, I had previously been exposed to convincing philosophical and scientific arguments for the existence of God, and historical evidence for the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. As a natural truth seeker, I couldn’t simply reject a logical possibility because of an emotional reaction. So instead, I explored whether it was possible to reconcile the world’s suffering with the loving God revealed in Christ crucified.

I questioned everything, even my fundamental views on salvation and faith. I realized that, despite always having such strong beliefs, my actions had not been in alignment. My life had not reflected the love of Christ or fruit of the Spirit. This was largely due to misguided theology such as the simplistic, incomplete message of salvation as a psychological concept, which is pervasive in modern western church culture. Additionally, I wondered if I had missed the “Lordship” of Jesus, or if I simply had a disconnect between my mind and my heart, or if I had never even been saved. Whatever the reason, I started pouring my heart – with all its ugly honesty – out to God, asking Him that if I wasn’t saved before, to please save me now… I said many Mark 9:24 prayers.

When the topic of God came up in a conversation with my dad, I admitted that I didn’t even know if I was a Christian anymore, that I was still trying to believe the core essentials, but had lost my faith. He answered that perhaps the trying IS faith. It helped to learn that even people I considered to be full of faith sometimes have their struggles, doubts, and spiritually dry times. At that point, continued obedience – or “just doing as I’m told” in my dad’s words – is an act of faith. I started to consider this perspective of faith being more about course of action than perfect belief.

Of course, I’m not saying that beliefs don’t matter… only that when I reexamined what the Bible says about faith and salvation, I found it to be more comprehensive than just a confession of belief.

This topic, like many others, often leads to Christians landing on either extreme end of a spectrum. Some say faith/salvation is belief-based, while some argue that it’s works-based. There is scriptural evidence for the importance of both, not one or the other alone, considering they naturally go hand in hand when real covenantal faith is present.

 

For those who would like to read the entire article:  How Losing My Faith Helped Me Find (Real) Faith


Thank you for reading and for sharing with others!  We pray you are blessed by it and we appreciate your support following our blog.  Stay tuned for Part Two.  ~Jessica

About Jessica Lopez

Come see me at the Shepherding All God's Creatures blog! https://shepherdingcreation.com/ Or on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ShepherdingCreation/ Or in our prayer group! https://www.facebook.com/groups/notonesparrowPrayer/?sw_fnr_id=1849779375
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11 Responses to How Losing My Faith Helped Me Find (Real) Faith – Part One

  1. Jason Jorgensen says:

    Thank you for the very honest post. I remember when I first learned about animal suffering and how trying it was on my faith. I can still recall it like it was yesterday but thankfully I have gone past that. I came to realize that I see the reflection of Christ when I look at the animals. There is something about defenseless, innocent suffering inflicted on those who are perfectly innocent that I cannot stand.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Kathy says:

      I totally echo your sentiments, Jason, thank you for your message! The created world is his physical revelation of himself to us! How marvelous are his works and how much we need to cherish and protect and care for all of what he has made. A lot of us likely go through a crisis of faith when we discover the suffering man inflicts upon animals, I did as well. I’ve learned I cannot live in the suffering in order to stay focused on advocating for them or Satan has a stronghold in my life and I am rendered useless in many ways. Blessings.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Jessica Lopez says:

        Very true Kathy, and considering how many Christians have a faith crisis after learning about animal cruelty, the church’s response is that much more critical!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Jessica Lopez says:

      Thank you for your comment, Jason, and I feel the same way! Truthfully, I believe Jesus also feels that way when He sees how humans, who were supposed to be the stewards/protectors of His animals after the example of His loving protection over us, instead have dominated them after the example of the enemy’s cruel oppression. I see glimpses of God’s broken heart in scripture when He expresses disgust over animal sacrifices and when Jesus drives out those selling/exploiting animals from the temple.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Craig says:

    I think you hit the nail right on the head when you say: “especially when I saw other professing Christians use religion to justify oppression based on species (or gender, or nationality, or other discriminating factors that don’t matter in the kingdom of God)”. I hear people all the time leaving the church or disregarding the gospel because of how believers portray God. And you’re absolutely right, these factors that further oppression are tied to the fall, not to salvation, and therefore cannot be brought into the kingdom of God.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Kathy says:

      Thank you Craig for your message! This particular line in Jessica’s piece also resonated with me, very powerful! I think it is imperative that influential leaders of all kinds begin making the suffering of animals a key concern of what it means to practice our faith walk. This is where animal advocates can come in and really insist and educate our leaders. Also the younger generation is key in changing the landscape in a huge way. Blessings.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Jessica Lopez says:

      Thank you for your feedback, Craig! And I too talk to animal advocates almost daily who consider Christianity the enemy. They don’t realize that the church was once a leader in godly creation care and other social justice issues. Our role of reflecting God’s good Edenic design and the true heart of Christ for all creation is so important in restoring the way people view God.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Nancy Poznak says:

    I have a strong faith in God, although I’m not Christian as I was raised in a Jewish family. I became vegan a few years ago after learning about the horrors endured by farmed animals, not only in factory farms, but the suffering caused by turning sentient beings into commodities. Humans have no need for animal products; this is supported by every major health and nutrition organization and by mountains of research. Therefore, eating animals amounts to killing for pleasure. To be a truly humane, loving person, we need to respect all lives and realize than nonhumans are not ours. They have lives for their own reasons. Regardless of whether we understand their purpose, we should not need to know someone’s purpose in order to understand the importance of being kind. Kindness is its own reward.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Kathy says:

      Thank you for your message, Nancy!
      Yes, kindness is so important. The Bible in the OT references being kind and merciful to animals a few times. I agree whole heartedly with your sentiments.

      I do have some Jesus following Jewish friends. Have you considered Jesus as the Holy Messiah, perhaps weighing out all that is available about the Messiah on both sides of the issue before making a choice? Myself, I’ve had a crisis of faith a few times and questioned all I ever thought I knew about who Jesus said he is. I personally think that, with so many religious denominaons, it is important to seek for truth in as much as possible no matter our roots in one of them.

      I hope you don’t mind my asking! If you wouldn’t mind a conversation about this, and would rather not have it here, feel free to PM me through the contact button on the blog. 🙂 Love and blessings, Kathy

      Liked by 2 people

    • Jessica Lopez says:

      Thank you Nancy for your comment and your heart for animals! Very true, I often wonder how one can say they love God if they are not willing to extend God’s love to His very own creation, and instead kill His creatures for pleasure as you accurately point out. I believe that God created them for the same reason we were created: to delight in! Scripture says that all creation glorifies God and we must not twist it to say that animals are here for us rather than for their Creator.

      Although you’re not Christian, you might like some of the New Testament as a case for veganism, as we believe that Christ died to reconcile all creation to God. One of the clearest examples of bold action for animals is when Jesus passionately drives out those who were selling them in the temple! In my own faith crisis when I was so hurt over Christians’ portrayal of God that I wanted to become an atheist, I did a lot of research and gathered some good resources if you’re ever interested. Honestly when I returned to the faith, I did not like identifying as a Christian because much of what that word means to people is very far from the actual Christ. I prefer something like disciple of Jesus. Would love to exchange stories sometime, I love hearing about how those in other faiths felt led to go vegan. Either way, thank you so much for following our blog and for your kindness toward God’s creatures!

      Like

  4. Pingback: How Losing my Faith Helped Me Find (Real) Faith – Part Two | Shepherding All God's Creatures

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