Why do so many people today NOT believe in your existence & kingship?
Updated: Jul 27
Why do so many people today NOT believe in Your existence & kingship?
Growing up in the southern United States in the 80’s was a blessing. Most everyone lived in the tiny bubble that was my hometown, and everybody, with few exceptions, believed in You. We went to church on Sunday mornings and usually some event on Wednesday nights. I hung out with friends who attended the same church. We went to youth events and summer camps. We sang around a camp fire and were so unaware of our uncomplicated existence.
Today, that kind of upbringing seems rare, even for those who desire it. But I wonder, why do so many choose NOT to believe in You? Why has Your earthly life been reduced to a story in a book? Why do some believe You could have been a prophet, but definitely NOT the Son of God? And why do some deny Your name entirely, opting for natural order by happenstance?
In college, I learned about other cultures. Always a huge interest of mine, the beauty of different people of different colors, customs, features and dress, still mesmerizes today. Diving into Indian culture, one of my favorites, and Chinese culture, drew me in, as well as many other people groups. I admit, there was questioning going on in my mind, “Is this Jesus guy real? . . Is He just an idea I was taught growing up, making Christianity "feel" comfortable? . . . Was I foolish, not seeing what the rest of the world saw, which included a variety of answers to our creation, the earths’ creation, our purpose, and so on?”
I won’t go as far as saying that I left You completely, but I was in research mode, even though I had already truly given my heart to You. Without the protective wings of my family, church & friends, the world opened my eyes to a larger view of reality. And I was surprised. I was shocked that not everyone came from a loving home. Not everyone believed in You. There was a lot of hate. A lot of hurt. The majority of people I met were jaded, unhappy, and filled with a hardness to them. Tough. Independent. As if their hearts had been under strict guard for some time, not realizing their spirits were in chains.
But we were ALL free. All residing in the United States of America. All attending a private, highly respected college. All doing what we loved doing; something most people considered a luxury, artwork. So, why the chains? The despair? The disillusionment? The wall?
In John 9 in Your Word, You healed a blind man on the Sabbath, which is a day You’ve decreed a day of rest from all work. Some pointed fingers at You because healing was considered “work”. Their statements reveal their hearts:
. . . ”he does not keep the Sabbath.”
. . . “We know this man is a sinner.”
. . . “What did he do to you?”
. . . “you did not listen.”
. . . “Then they hurled insults at him” . . .
The above statements stand in direct opposition to Your earthly ministry. Judgmental and unfeeling, the Pharisees prized “the rules” over a man’s healing. They were oppressive and made those not in positions of power, fearful. Full of their own self-righteousness, they were forceful, declaring all others liars. The misguided leaders eventually began bullying and berating those who disagreed, resulting in insults, accusations and ultimately, pride.
But isn’t that Satan’s plan? To somehow make Your love look so unappealing, so backwards, and so ridiculous and ignorant, that we shy away from it altogether, exhausted by the entire notion? And somehow You and Your children become the oppressors. Trying to walk in Your ways, in love AND truth, Christians somehow become the bad guys. What a remarkable role-reversal the enemy is capable of pulling off! He can deter us from accepting Your love without us even realizing what he’s doing!
I understand now why You vehemently opposed the Pharisees, exposing their arrogance & pride. They were nothing more than mouthpieces for the enemy. Masquerading as faithful servants of Yours, they were actually creating impossible standards for anyone to follow, thus making all feel inferior and ultimately unworthy of Your love. You died on the cross BECAUSE You loved us; not so we would follow the intolerant Pharisees, peddling a religion that involved an impossible adherence to rules that completely missed the point.
With walled-off, hardened hearts, they were unwilling to hear the truth. In verse 34, especially, their pride is evident. These leaders followed the rules; which is usually a good thing. But then they added a whole bunch of their own; I know that’s against Your Word.
"Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you." Deuteronomy 4:2
And to make matters worse, they took on a position favoring those rules and ignoring the most important part of You. Your heart.
"The Lord says:
“These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught."
Your heart makes Christianity different from any other religion. It’s not about following rules to be saved, or doing enough good stuff to make up for all the bad stuff; it’s having a heart that recognizes and loves You in return. Hearts open to Your love. And hearts that long to spend eternity WITH YOU, not merely in the abundance You provide.
No other religion or belief system captures the motives behind our desire for relationships with one another, except the knowledge that You created us to be relational, with one another and with You. No other religion or belief system answers the questions of how we came into existence and why, except the wisdom that You created the world and created us to share it with You. No other religion or belief system exposes the blessing of what we are supposed to do with this precious life we’ve been given, except the understanding that we are meant to glorify and love You, and others, with each of our specific gifts, talents and blessings.
Lord, one of my most favorite things about You is variety. You love all the different colors and peoples of the world. You love all the eye colors and hair colors. All the body types and all the unique voices. You love how we each do things a little different than the next. You love the different ways our minds work, and how we solve problems from different perspectives. You love all our differences, because You made us and You love variety!
"For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything." Hebrews 3:4
It’s Your heart that the Pharisees missed. It’s the essence of WHO YOU ARE that they failed to see. You remember when I used to have obsessive tendencies? As a teen, I would check the stove multiple times to make sure it was turned off, as well as the back door to make sure it was locked. And as an adult, I’m an avid list and note taker. They help me at times, but they can also hinder me. Abiding by my list, making sure to do all the things a good Christian was supposed to do (pray, read my Bible, tithe, volunteer), You taught me the danger of holding too tightly to “the rules”. Allowing them to consume me, threatened the very freedom You died on the cross to protect.
I know these things are important and good. But I remember You showing me how they can imprison me. Living life trapped between the dotted lines of a list STEALS our joy. Rules are good, but in and of themselves they are a holding cell. A place to wait out my days with a lifeless enthusiasm for You. But that’s not what You have called me to, is it? You call me to freedom, and in abundance (Galatians 5:1). You call me to joy and peace (Romans 15:13). I know obedience is important to You; but it’s not more important than giving my whole heart to You, right?! Could it be that I should strive to do the above “good things” out of my great love and gratitude for You? To please You and worship You.
Refusing to follow in the footsteps of the unbelieving Pharisees, I admit that I am also susceptible to the same sin as the enemy.
"You said in your heart,
“I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”
Unfortunately, I know firsthand how much You detest pride. I also know to what lengths You will go to eradicate it from Your children, myself included. It’s such an easy trap to fall into; but pride stands in direct opposition of our truly accepting Your love.
Jesus, is pride always a bad thing? It seems that in Your Word, You say that pride CAN be good, in a job well done or in acknowledging someone else’s job well done. (Galatians 6:4-5; 2 Corinthians 7:4). But it seems that we, humans, have a tendency towards the bad kind, without us even realizing it (Proverbs 16:17-20).
"To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.”
The opposite of this sinful, self-righteous attitude is:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those
who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become
conceited, provoking and envying each other.” Galatians 5:22-26
After graduating from a prestigious college, You were with me as I struggled to find a job in my chosen field. . . for 6 years. That was a long season of part-time jobs, sometimes even two or three at once. Do You remember the Receptionist job? Paper carrier? Waitress? Freelancer? Cookie decorator? Sign maker? And so many more? Some of them I actually liked, but none were my chosen field of study from college. How You must have scoffed at my overconfident attitude coming out of college. I actually assumed there was going to be a red carpet with employers just WAITING in line to hire me. In retrospect, I now see how You allowed the events of those six long years as a way to “take me down a notch”. Not to be harsh, but to show me a healthy dose of reality, and yes, humility.
Then, after 7 years in my “career job”, pride reared its ugly head again. I had become angry and bitter toward a job that I absolutely loved. I wanted more money. I wanted to win awards. I wanted to be admired. You think I would have gotten the lesson the first time, huh? I’m sure that’s what You had hoped, knowing that pride was an infection, not easily removed. Then, I got sick. Chronic illness has become a thorn You have been unwilling to take away. At first, I was mad. I mean, if You love me, why would You let my body literally attack itself. . . for the rest of my life? I pouted and complained and whined for a long time, didn’t I?
I’m sorry, Lord. I was so foolish. I remember asking You time and time again to take it away.
…yet the thorn remained.
A couple years with various medications and lots of tests.
…yet the thorn remained.
Another diagnosis and a failed marriage.
…yet the thorn remained.
Then, I remember praying a prayer I thought would never escape my mouth. “Lord, please heal me. But if healing me means that I will move away from You again, in pride, I don’t want the thorn taken away.” I know Your Spirit lives in me; because that is NOT a prayer I have EVER been humble enough to pray on my own!
For a long time, I wondered if my sickness was punishment from You. But once again, that Pharisee-way-of-thinking was a lie, intended to turn me against You. That, “follow the rules or else” mentality was nothing more than another manipulation. The truth? You are good. You are love (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). And You did NOT make me sick. It could have been that my body is failing, like this world; sin has been ravaging Your creation since Adam & Eve. It could have been that this was one of those things I will simply never understand, this side of heaven; because You are God and I am not. Or, it could have been something You allowed, like Satan requesting to test Job (Job 1:6-12). The enemy could have asked, and You could have allowed him access to my health; but just like Job, not to punish me, but to refine me. Whatever the reason, I know You are not looking to hurt or torture me; that is the enemy’s playground. You intend good for me (Romans 8:28; Jeremiah 29:11).
Many years later, I am still chronically ill, but I see my life from a different perspective. Satan was unwilling to lay down his own pride; therefore, his actions reveal his allegiance, to himself. However, my heart belongs to You. And I am convinced that You allow these trials to transform me into Your likeness, preparing me for eternity in heaven WITH You. Thank You for loving me so very much. It’s staggering, really. You are so good, Lord!
"For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance."
It seems that the ugliness of PRIDE can be portrayed as a beautiful string of pearls, adorning the necks of those searching for truth, yet denying that You ARE truth. The pearls fall into the depths of the ocean, lost and without purpose. UNBELIEF takes hold of it and pulls it under further, hidden amongst the death & decay, wreckage and waste. The pearls become accustomed to the algae and mildew, even enjoying their new home. And their once-glamourous perspective has so drastically changed that they mock rescue plans to pull them out of the muck. Finally, SIN completely engulfs the string of pearls in green and black sludge, eating away at it with each passing moment. And the final nail in the coffin, the revelation that the pearls weren’t actually real. They were a fake substitute, only revealed at the bottom of the sea. The pearl necklace represents Satan’s lies, which are nothing more than a magician’s cloned immitation (John 10:10).
Pride is a brick wall separating us from You. And it must be demolished, at all costs. Because we belong in heaven, with You. But like so many who pridefully proclaim a false truth, it is simply NOT possible to get there WITHOUT You (John 10:1-4).
"Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. From their callous hearts comes iniquity; their evil imaginations have no limits. They scoff, and speak with malice; with arrogance they threaten oppression."
“ . . . Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. . .
but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. . . “
It seems that PRIDE leads to UNBELIEF (Hebrews 3:7-8, 12-13) And unbelief is kind-of a big deal, considering You created us with choice. The choice of unbelief puts us in direct opposition to everything You’ve created. (Romans 11:20-21; Hebrews 11:6; 1 Peter 5:5-7).
But when we TURN to You:
"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27
I love this verse. We, humans, are definitely sheep. We’re created to be sociable and thrive on relationships with those in our flocks. These (godly) relationships help us avoid Satan’s tricks & deceptions. We gain comfort from those we love. We hear the sounds of loved ones & see them, with hearts stirred. But without those precious relationships, we can easily become endangered. When sheep are accidentally rolled over on their backs, they become distressed & can die in a short period of time. Just like sheep, we are fragile beings; we so easily become overwhelmed by life’s demands, emotional woes & painful experiences. Quite literally, we need You to pick us up and set up back on our feet again. Otherwise, our hearts become diminished and our spirits wane under the pressure of living in this fallen world.
And as we are the sheep, You are DEFINITELY our shepherd. You are the good shepherd. The one that never leaves us alone or without protection. You’re always with us. You comfort us, bathing us in a love that surpasses all knowledge (Ephesians 3:16-19). And You are in control of all things; so, we may rest in Your sovereignty (Isaiah 41).
"Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.” John 10:7
"When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom." Proverbs 11:2
Lord, please forgive me for the pride I’ve steadily nursed in my life. Please forgive me for choosing my way above Yours. And for trying to glorify myself instead of You. Time and time again, I have stepped in front of Your way to try and make my own. Please help me to humbly remember my place in Your kingdom, as daughter of the Most High. Cherished daughter, but also sinner.
In Psalm 73, an interesting concept arises. One that I admit NO personal mastery. Total abandonment to YOU. Not to me, or my family. Not my job or even godly friendships. But YOU. Lord, in all honesty, this is so very hard. The distractions, sometimes good and sometimes bad, are ALWAYS right there. On most days, it feels absolutely impossible. And knowing and embracing the fact that I cannot do this all on my own, Lord, that I cannot lean on you, in my own power, is truly humbling (James 1:26-27). Lord, the only way I can consistently come to You in repentance & praise is through Your Spirit (2 Timothy 1:14).
"Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
Lord, I pray You will give me the heart of David. He came before You in repentance, in an effort to close the gap sin had created between himself and You. And then he praised You. In Your Word, King David’s life was marked by REPENTANCE and PRAISE. May You create that kind of heart within me, constantly diminishing the space between Your heart and mine, resulting in my praise of You. (Psalm 32, 2 Samuel 22)
"Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die."
You truly deserve our praise, both individually and as the body of Christ (John 10:17-18; Psalm 66:5-12, 16-20, Psalm 138 & 139). When I’m praising You, it’s harder for me to be prideful; because when I stop praising myself, I see how great YOU are and how “my way” is usually selfish and sinful (Psalm 66).
Lord, God, please speak through Your Holy Spirit, all the days of my life. Please lead me to recognize my sin and remind me to repent. Please open my eyes to Your good works and lift my heart in worshipping You. Please keep me close to You. Even when I start to walk away, please bring me back. Please help me realize the enemy’s tricks and don’t allow my sin to consume me. I love You, Lord, my God (Luke 9:23-26; Matthew 22:37-40).
"But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds."