My Spiritual Journey
- Sheldon Clowdus
I was raised in a traditional Southern Baptist environment. My parents made sure that every Sunday morning we attended Sunday school and church. Sunday nights were church training/discipleship training and church. Wednesday nights were RA's (Royal Ambassadors) for me and GA's (Girls in Action) for my sister. I am extremely grateful that my parents made us go to church. A great deal of my bible knowledge came because of their faithfulness in bringing me to church. However,without really being aware of it, I was being taught an Arminian theology. I didn't know that was the term for it nor did I really give much thought or any time to the possibility that it could be incorrect. I don't really think I gave any thought to the possibility that there was another view of how God interacted with His people or of what His purposes were. Unlike Snoopy, it had never occurred to me that I might be wrong or that it was important to be as sure as I could that what I believed was true.
When I went to college God begin to open my eyes to the importance of know what you believe and why you believe it. I begin to see myself in the people around me. They had been raised to believe a certain way and obviously had never really investigated the validity of their belief system. Because of their lack of knowledge as to why what they believed was true, they were woefully unable to defend their beliefs against issues raised by those with differing theologies. I began to realize that I was exactly like they were. I had no idea why I believed the things about God I believed. I had no idea how to prove that these views were an accurate representation of the God I said I loved and followed.
So I began to examine my beliefs. I began to determine if the Bible actually validated the things I believed to be true about God. I found that in many instances it did. I also found that in many other instances it did not. Over a period of 3-4 years and through some God ordained relationships I finally began to see God as the Bible reveals Him. The end result of that journey left me with what I now know to be a predominantly reformed theology. I still know what seems to me to be an infinitesimally small bit of all that God is and I still pray for and seek more of Him. What He has revealed to me through His word to this point, however, has radically changed the way I try to live on a daily basis.
Below are some of the most life affecting aspects of my theology:
- God's sovereignty - knowing that God is in complete control of everything and that He says that all things work for my good (Romans 8:28) has and continues to bring peace. Nothing occurs to me or anyone else except those things that God has ordained and are part of His purposes.
- Reformed view of salvation - I find that I am much more aware and grateful for my salvation now that I realize what a true gift it is. I had nothing to do with it and only by the sovereign grace of God am I now one of His children. I also value the cross and the gospel so much more now than before.
- God's pursuit of His glory - Understanding that God is the center of everything, that the Bible is a book about God and not about man keeps me from over estimating my own importance. God does not exist to make me happy, I exist to bring Him glory.
These beliefs keep me from living a life devoted to the pursuit of the things God can provide me. Instead, I pursue Christ, I pursue His glory and learn to be content with whatever God sees fit to send me, be they blessings that I recognize or blessing that I don't. I am content with Christ and Christ alone. The point of the gospel is not the blessings of God, but just God.
Your theology determines the choices you make, whether you realize it or not. Examine your beliefs. What choices have you been making? What road is your theology leading you down? What do you believe about God? Do you really know why you believe what you believe?