If you’re on social media at all, or if you watch or read daily newscasts, you realize nearly every discussion about a topic is based on arguments. Experts are either FOR something, or they’re AGAINST it. And if you find yourself on the wrong side of the argument, watch out.
Religion is often the same way. It’s tough to have a conversation about religion without it turning into a controversy. People that have faith are usually pretty set in their beliefs.. And people who don’t are usually very set in their disbelief.
In this new message series, Starting Point, we are going to open up a conversation about the Christian faith. A conversation that includes opportunities to ask, to doubt, to question, and to disagree. Our intent is to provide clear, easy-to-understand, and believable answers that will address those questions and doubts.
Why? Because many adults would like a chance to explore and consider faith for themselves.
You might have questions you’ve always wondered, but never felt comfortable enough to ask at church. Legitimate questions that make many Christians uncomfortable. At Ordinary Faith, we encourage you to ask, to wonder, to question. Nothing is off limits. We want to have conversations about the stuff that really matters to you. Even when—especially when—it’s difficult to talk about.
We believe that God loves you—specifically. We believe he’s big enough to handle your toughest questions, darkest moments, and deepest doubts. At Ordinary Faith we want to honor him and you by creating an environment where you can comfortably be open, honest, and transparent.
Welcome to Starting Point.
Something In Common
Everything that exists had a starting point…including you. You may have started on purpose. You might have been a surprise. You may even have started through the magic of medical science. Whatever the circumstances, you had a starting point and it began before you were aware of it.
On top of that, everything IN your life had a starting point as well. Your formal education, your career, your romantic life, becoming a parent—they all had a starting point. And your faith has a starting point as well. That’s the focus of this message series.
|When you think about God’s involvement with the world, what three words come to mind?What was something in your life that had a particularly memorable starting point?How and when did your faith journey begin?|
On-Ramps to Faith
Perhaps you were given a framework for faith as a child. Maybe your parents taught you what to believe, or you attended a synagogue, temple, mosque, or church. If so, that framework probably included ideas like: God is good. God punishes evil and rewards good. God answers prayer.
As a kid things like that are easy to accept. But over the years simple frameworks like that may have become challenging. Unexplainable things in life have a habit of chipping away at our faith.
If God is good, why is there so much in the world that is NOT good? If God ‘so loves’ why doesn’t it seem like He loves me?” And, why do bad people get away with evil and good people suffer?
If your childhood faith got eroded over the years, then trying to RESTART your faith the same way you started faith as a child might not be helpful.
What’s the difference? For years we’ve been taught to begin with the Bible. There’s nothing wrong with that. The Bible can be a great place to start.
But for many adults “The Bible Says…” isn’t an adequate starting or returning point to faith. And there’s good reason for that: The Bible was never intended to be the starting point for faith.
You see, the documents that make up the New Testament weren’t put together for 300 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Yet there were hundreds of thousands of Christians before that time. What was their starting point? Because the New Testament didn’t exist. How did they come to follow Jesus if there was no “Bible” to serve as their starting point for faith?
|How well has your faith held up under the rigors of life? How would you currently describe your perspective on faith?Talk about a story, person, or experience that has influenced the way you look at God.|
Paul In Athens
Let’s look at a conversation between Paul (the Christian-hater who became a missionary) and some Athenians who believed there was more to life than met the eye—who wanted something to believe in but weren’t sure they could ever know with certainty.
Luke, who traveled with Paul, tells us what happened in the ancient travel document/journal called Acts, which was eventually included in the New Testament. Acts 17 finds Paul in Athens, waiting for his travel companions, Silas and Timothy. This takes place 20+ years after Jesus died.
As Paul explored Athens he found many statues dedicated to gods that people worshiped. There were so many Paul realized people must be confused about God. So he started conversations with people in town and told them about Jesus, the Son of God who came to earth. He told them about Jesus’ arrest and execution. Then he told them Jesus rose from the dead!
His message was so shocking it got him an audience with the city council. Paul told them about the one true God who created the world. He told them of a mighty God who loved them and proved his love by what He did in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus by saying…
Acts 17:31 (NLV) God has proven this to all men by raising Jesus Christ from the dead.
How do you think that went? About like you’d imagine. People simply don’t rise from the dead. The city leaders may have been superstitious idol worshippers. But they were certainly no fools.
But—there were some of the leaders who said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.”
Understand that Paul left them with a question. He boldly declared Jesus was resurrected from the dead. In doing so, he forced those people to wrestle with who Paul (and God) said Jesus was.
The starting point for adult faith is a question: “Who is Jesus?” Because something happened. Not something that happened before he died, or any of Jesus’ teachings or miracles. The Christian faith is about what happened AFTER he died: Jesus rose from the dead.
|Who is Jesus? Did God really raise a man from the dead? Did he really come from the Father to make the Father known? What do you think about Paul’s bold declaration, and why?Review Jesus’ words in John 12:46 I have come into the world as a light so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.What does this verse tell you about Jesus’ mission? What does Jesus’ resurrection tell you about God the Father?|
Used Under License from North Point Ministries