I read this today. I relate to this tremendously.
I grew up in a Christian home, going to church every week, two or three times a week depending on the programs and activities I was involved in. Choir, youth group, bible studies…whatever it might be. I am very thankful for that upbringing. My parents and the churches we attended through the years instilled in me the basics of the faith. But I have come to realize that many of those things were, as Oswald Chambers says, a mental belief rather than a personal belief. He says:
In the programme of mental belief I commit myself, and abandon all that is not related to that commitment. In personal belief I commit myself morally to this way of confidence and refuse to compromise with any other; and in particular belief I commit myself spiritually to Jesus Christ, and determine in that thing to be dominated by the Lord alone.
If I believed, because I was taught, that cussing was wrong, I wouldn’t cuss. Drinking, as I was taught, was wrong, so I avoided it. Lust was wrong, so I tried to deny myself in that area. But what I see now is that maybe I didn’t have a personal belief, that it was just a mental commitment. Don’t get me wrong, I do not doubt my salvation, but I see now how immature my faith has been for a large part of my life. (Side note: Are the things I listed above wrong? Are they sin? Yes, I believe they can be. But let’s face it, drinking is not wrong when done responsibly. Feeling attraction to the opposite sex is not wrong, unless it is abused. These can lead to very destructive lifestyles, however are not destructive themselves. It is our human abuse and carelessness…our sin nature…that is mixed in and destroys.)
A mental commitment or belief in something leads to man-made holiness or righteousness. Better put, it leads to man-made religion. A list of do’s and don’ts and principles. But is this why Jesus came to earth, taught all the wonderful things we can read about anytime in our bibles, and then ultimately be arrested, tortured and murdered? I don’t think it is. I think it is because God in all of His infinite wisdom knows that we are incapable to make ourselves right with Him, to make ourselves holy and righteous. To be “good people”. That’s why Jesus came…to save us from ourselves, the sin nature that is woven within our very being and separates us from God.
Chambers’ words today resonate with me because I’m starting to grasp my Christian faith for myself. It is starting to become a personal belief and I’m starting to toss mental commitments out the window. I’ve lived measuring myself up to the lists and principles of Christian religion for a long time and I know it’s all meaningless. Jesus calls for complete surrender of myself to Him and nothing else. He’s ready and willing to do the work that He started if I will simple allow Him.