How do I keep going as a Christian?
I have recently found God and have felt overwhelmed & reborn. However over the last few weeks I have struggled to get to church and I can feel my feelings of euphoria subsiding. I am also concerned that when I go to church my church elders only go on a bout giving money and not much else. I need to learn more about the bible & Jesus, not just made to feel guilty for not giving enough. I am on the verge of either following Jesus completely or falling away. What can you suggest to turn it around for me?
First of all sorry not to have got back to you earlier.
Its great that you have recently found God and I am not surprised that you have been somewhat overwhelmed and emotional (if I can put it like that). I am also not surprised that you have found that sense of euphoria dropping off over time. What concerns me, though, is what you have said about your church - it is right for you to be concerned - and your suggestion about learning more about the bible and Jesus is the right one.
Being a Christian is (as you are probably aware) about being in a renewed relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. The best way to think about this relationship is like a marriage. Indeed this is the image that Paul uses in Ephesians 4 and also the image used Revelation (Christ and his bride - the church). The thing about being in a relationship like marriage is that feelings do not dictate whether the realtionship is real or not. Marriage is based on a commitment to love and serve your partner through thick and thin. If you have a fight with your partner or don’t have loving feelings towards them for a time, that doesn’t mean you are not still married.
So it is with Christianity - in becoming a Christian you have made a commitment to God to follow and serve him through think and thin. While you may have had feelings of euphoria at the start, the fact that these feelings are subsiding does not mean that you are not Christian or that your relationship with God is less. As long as you are committed to follow God then your relationship with him remains strong and secure and you need not feel guilty about anything.
The other thing about being married is that it is a dynamic relationship that you work at. When you are first married you do not know everything about your partner but over time you become aware of more and more about them - the way they think and act and react to different situations. Sometimes there is conflict that needs to be worked through, sometimes there is great joy and sometimes there is a comfortable rhythm between you. Over time you learn to trust your partner more and more as you understand them and become more convinced of their commitment to you.
So it is with Christianity - it is a dynamic relationship that needs to be worked at. Over time as you learn more about God and experience Him in your life, you learn to trust him more and become convinced of his love and commitment to you. So it is through your experiences of trusting in God and seeing his faithfulness to you that you know you are Christian and loved by God than by your feelings at any one time.
So hang in there - you have started well. Don’t let your feelings let you give in but remember the truth about Jesus - he died that you may be forgiven and know God.
Now living as a Christian is hard and that is why we pray, read the bible and go to church. In reading the bible we learn more and more about who God is and what he has done. In praying we bring all our joys and concerns to God (just like we would when we talk to our partner) knowing that God listens and answers them. And in meeting with God’s people at church and in bible study, we are meeting with others who can help us continue to walk with God.
So pray to God to help you understand him more and more. Talk to him about the things you find difficult or are anxious about. Thank him for all that he has done for you.
Read your bible as often as you can. It is helpful to start with one of the gospels in the New Testament (say Mark) but before you start reading, ask God to help you understand what you read. There are a number of helpful books that you can read alongside the bible. They systematically take you through passges in the bible and give you helpful insights. Scripture Union has some or Matthias Media. It is also helpful to find a group of people to study the bible with on a weekly basis. Most churches have bible study groups that you should join.
And finally find a church that will teach you the bible and help you grow as a Christian rather than simply ask for money. Ask God to help you find one and then look around and try a few. What you are looking for is a church that carefully teaches from the bible (not simply uses it to push a particular point of view), welcomes you sincerely and offers a number of opportunities to study the bible in small groups - a place that you are comfortable in.
I hope you find this helpful. Just remember one thing, if you are struggling, talk to God - he is always there and will help you.
If you have any other questions, please send them in.
Answers are kindly provided by our friends at Christianity.net.au