Several months ago I joined an inter-denominational study group that meets weekly to study and explore issues relating to Christianity and the Bible. Exploring my beliefs in a critical, interactive fashion has strengthened my faith — and it is identifying limiting beliefs that I need to let go.
It is not a group that simply mirrors each others’ beliefs but rather challenges each other’s beliefs and bases for them. It encourages each other not to be afraid of critical scrutiny. Challenges are made gently and lovingly, and people are treated with respect at all times. It is an environment that feels safe and supportive, but it is an environment that stirs and re-imagines. Perhaps similar to the same way that Christ stirred and re-imagined people’s relationship with God thousands of years ago.
For the most part, the people in my study group are as different as the ideas they represent. They represent diverse backgrounds, educations, and life experiences. The group is led by religious teachers, but they do not dictate participants’ beliefs. The people in my study group are not people who would ordinarily be drawn together were it not for a common belief in Christ and a desire to be closer to Him. They represent religious scholars, scientists, business people, retired military people, and people who have never spoken of their lives outside of the room in which we meet. And yet, though we come together for support, each of us are on our own personal journey. As with all people, each of us has been invited to have a personal relationship with God.
There are times when I leave the group refreshed and feeling quite comfortable in my beliefs. Perhaps too comfortable, because there are other times when I leave the group feeling unsettled and as if my head will explode from ideas that feel too large for it. Since last night’s meeting, for example, my head hurts. It pounds, actually.
I believe my faith is too small. I believe I’ve been conceited in my relationship with Christ. I believe I’m being humbled, which I must be if I am to have a closer relationship with Christ and a more meaningful understanding of God.
I believe I must change.
And I am reminded that change is not easy and it can hurt.
But I embrace it and I’m grateful because I believe that Christ is with me, urging me to follow. “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)
And perhaps change is what “follow me” is all about.
For it is impossible to follow and remain where you are.