Christian Confusion

Annette Jacobson— Staff Writer 

There’s so many opinions, so many unspoken rules, on what a Christian looks like. Why? At times, our long-held ideas of Christian living aren’t even specified in the Bible. Yet, we hold these opinions so close that we split off into different denominations and different buildings when we can’t agree. That disagreement happens a lot.

For example, members of my church argued over what language to speak on Sundays. Some wanted to switch to English. Others wanted to continue with Dutch. The discord caused the church to split into two congregations with the new one right across the street. 

That’s right. They literally built a new church right across the street so they could speak English. But here’s the kicker: now both churches speak English, but the two congregations have not rejoined. It’s incredulous to me.

I’ll admit I sometimes find myself in a similar mindset where the extreme option seems the only viable one. This especially happens at home when I hear something that makes me wonder why I’m still a Christian. 

I came to Dordt to learn more about my faith. For the longest time, I’ve felt confused and upset about my beliefs, or what I think I’m supposed to believe. It’s actions like my church’s split that cause me to waver. If our collective faith is so strong, why must we bicker about what language to speak or what pastor to call? Why are we focusing on the small and unimportant—the things that have nothing to do with our salvation? I feel my church would prefer a pastor who allows them to drift off during the service instead of one who holds them accountable for their actions.

I’m a hopeful teacher in the education department here. My professors tell me I am representing God through my actions, and we read books like Uncommon Decency that confirm these statements and my beliefs. But when I see reports of Christians condemning brothers and sisters in Christ to hell. I don’t see how we’re believing in the same God.  

These people are image-bearers of God. When we assume we can know and tell others what God has planned for them, we are pushing them away. And, when we depict God as a wrathful and vengeful being who tosses us aside when we sin, we are not promoting the God that I believe in. Yes, God can be wrathful, but I don’t believe he wants to see us in Hell. He wants us to accept salvation! There has got to be a better way to share the gospel that belittlement. 

Last spring, I professed my faith. I didn’t do it because of my upbringing, my parents, or even my church. I professed because my idea of Christianity had taken shape before my eyes while at Dordt. I had only been at Dordt for nearly two semesters but I was already learning so much more about what being a Christian meant than I had ever learned in my past.

Growing up in Northwest Iowa, I feel we don’t always take what we hear to heart. We grow up hearing about Jesus and how we are supposed to live, but in the end, we don’t give it much more thought. I didn’t want to become one of the kids in my church who goes to church every Sunday, attends Sunday School, and enjoys Wednesday nights, but then throws everything they learn out the window once they leave the church’s doors. 

It isn’t surprising that many kids who attend church stop doing so after they graduate from high school. When first looking at colleges, I didn’t even have Dordt on my list. In fact, it was my mother who first asked me to look at the campus. Not me. 

I always feel awkward when someone asks me why I chose to come to Dordt because I don’t have a solid answer. All I know is that if I wanted to become a person who actually loves others the way a Christian should, Dordt was the answer. Not Morningside, not Wartburg, not even USD (where my parents went), but Dordt. I didn’t care the price was almost double what USD asked, I was determined to learn what being a Christian meant. 

Ironically, this college isn’t exempt from this Christian Confusion any more than the churches or schools in the area. There’s people on campus from all over the world, so there’s bound to be differences on Biblical interpretation. We just need to keep our focus on God, his being, and the salvation he offers. So, even through lawsuits you might not understand and Monday speakers that you may not agree with, I believe it is important to remember the reason we are here in the first place.

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