In May 2018, I wrote a blog entry called Why Do I Believe In God? This is a follow-up to what I expressed then.
Being a Christian seems to mean different things to different people. Some people see it as good and others see it as bad, for a variety of reasons.
I’m just one man. I can’t possibly represent all people who call themselves Christian. I can only share myself with you. These are my feelings and views.
As a Christian, it is my nature to care about people — all people — regardless of race, gender, age, nationality, ability, belief system, sexual orientation, financial status, immigration status and any other qualifying factors. I don’t hate anyone. That all changed when I gave my life to Christ. I wasn’t a bigot before my conversion but I did hold grudges and there were individuals whom I hated. I left all that behind, the way I abandoned cursing, lying, manipulating, drinking alcohol and abusing illegal drugs.
I don’t judge any individual. That is not my responsibility nor do I desire to do so. But I can dislike any act or behavior, whether legal or illegal, that deliberately inflicts suffering and loss on self or others. In other words, I don’t like sin.
That said, I know I’ve made plenty of mistakes over the years. I’ve unintentionally caused hurt and pain. When I’ve been made aware, I’ve tried to make amends, though I haven’t always succeeded. I’m always learning and trying to grow, both as a person and as a Christian.
Why did I write that just now? Because God didn’t make those mistakes. Jesus Christ did not make those mistakes. I did. I believe sometimes people blame God and Jesus for the shortcomings of fallible human beings. I think that's especially true for those who cause harm to others while hypocritically proclaiming their Christianity.
Jesus warned of this in Matthew 7: 13-20 (King James Version)
"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
Matthew 7: 21-23 (King James Version)
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
God does not change. His love is inexhaustible. He and Jesus exist outside time itself and can see and understand all things. They are not limited by people’s perceptions of them. They do not and will not fit into what people want them to be. They are who they are, regardless of who believes in Them.
So here’s why I’m proud to be a Christian. My life has dramatically changed since I accepted Christ in January 1996. My conscience was cleaned by the Holy Spirit.
I was given new purpose, hope and potential. I learned how to be a better husband, father, and person. My wife and I joined a Christian band called First Light, so I developed as a musician and singer (and so did she). The Lord altered the direction of the comics I was creating. And eventually, He sent me down the path to becoming a Christian fiction author.
I’m not ashamed of who I am and who I’ve become. I have a wonderful African-American wife. We cherish and love each other equally. We've been married since 1995 and have three children together. I have family in so many ways. I have friends all over the globe. I can write Christian fiction stories that people have started buying. It's very exciting!
I don’t have to be a millionaire to be rich. I am most content with all that I have. I am wealthy in love, peace, and joy.
I know this world is filled with an incalculable amount of sadness, heartache, bitterness, loss, and hate. People suffer every day, they are suffering right now, for so many reasons. People lose hope all the time.
But no matter what people are going through, there is an answer. Hope is out there, it can be renewed. And there can be peace, a love to see anyone through any ordeal. A love that surpasses limits and understanding. It may not stop the hurt, but it can give people strength to endure another minute, hour or day. It can offer stability where none exists.
That’s why I’m sharing this. I was compelled to write it. I know it can’t reach or please everyone; that’s impossible. But even if it helps one person in any way, then it’s worth it.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.
I know that for most of its history, Halloween has been a popular "holiday-that’s-not-an-official-holiday." It is recognized for many reasons, not least of which is children (of all ages) dressing up as whatever they desire and associating a sense of fun with varying degrees of dark, horror and even macabre themes. Little of it is meant to be taken seriously. I remember it well, as I celebrated Halloween from childhood through my late teens.
Before I proceed, I want to make it clear that I have nothing against anyone who engages in Halloween festivities. That is an individual decision and it means different things to different people. Consider the rest of what I’ve written here food for thought.
I stopped participating in Halloween when I became a Christian in 1996. I know that some believers still do celebrate the occasion; that’s their choice. However, I did not change my mind about it just because of my faith. As time has passed, I’ve come to better comprehend what Halloween accomplishes: it gives people a reason to play with something that many of them either do not truly believe in or understand -- the Spirit World.
Imagery of and costumes evoking ghosts, goblins, vampires, werewolves and murdering ghouls (whether zombies or deranged psychopaths) are fair game for a day. Far from angels, these things actually represent demons. But since people see them as fictitious, they’re harmless, right? Isn’t it just make-believe?
And what about people who dress up as superheroes, other heroic characters or some cartoon character? Is it okay to dress up as a TV/movie character that has nothing to do with horror? Where’s the harm?
If one is celebrating Halloween in any form, it is giving silent acceptance to all of Halloween, including the harmful and evil representations.
Presently, many people do not believe in spirits -- or anything they can’t identify with their five senses. That’s understandable from the society we live in. We are used to instant access to plenty of things we can experience through our mobile devices, computers or in-person.
But we all have faith. I’m not talking about religious or spiritual faith. I’m talking about believing in something. It could be family, friends, education, politics, science, entertainment, social justice or any number of other areas. One has to have faith to trust in anything. And we can’t see faith, we only experience it.
There’s literally a universe worth of things we don’t know, realize or understand yet. No matter how long we live, as individuals or as humanity itself, we will always be learning. We cannot see gravity but it’s what keeps us from floating away into the cosmos. With rare exceptions, we can’t see the wind; we can only see its effects.
All that said, I will state that we live in a dual universe: one physical and one spiritual - both inhabiting the same reality. We are alive both biologically and because we have living souls. When we are conceived, our bodies are biologically created and our souls enter in to occupy them. When we die, our bodies cease to function and our souls leave them.
Likewise, as we walk this Earth, we see people, animals, vegetation, land, water, sky and all things constructed. But occupying the same space are other things, spiritual in nature. There are angels and demons, incredible wonders and unspeakable terrors. Most of it is beyond our ability to comprehend. Still, it exists.
As a teen, I walked between both worlds in ignorance. It’s something I’m not ready to expound on, as such matters are not easily shared. Most would probably find it unbelievable. But it occurred. I’m grateful that the Lord Himself had mercy on me. He allowed me to break free of that ordeal. Someday, I will properly write or speak of it.
Today, I see Halloween as linked with all the darkness and wickedness I left behind. I truly believe that most people don’t see the fullness of what they’re associating with in Halloween. They think it’s harmless fun. I saw its true face and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
By 1996, the Lord led me down a path to Salvation. My own changed life is a witness to God’s power. As an adult, I have seen and experienced miracles.
There is no comparison between the Dark and the Light. The Dark can seem attractive. It has things to offer and there’s a power behind it. But the Light has already conquered it. There is hope and peace in God’s perfect light through His Son, Jesus Christ.
No matter how you feel about the opinions I’ve expressed here, I thank you for reading this.
About the author
Allen Steadham is a nondenominational Christian. Happily interracially married since 1995 and the proud father of two sons and a daughter. He and his wife have been in the same Christian band since 1997. He plays electric bass, she plays strings, they both sing. It's all good.
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