How difficult questions lead to true worship


I recently read Atomic Habits, a best-selling book by James Clear.  It’s a fascinating read, but what really caught my attention was Chapter 2, How Your Habits Shape Your Identity (and vice versa).  He argues that your identity -- the person you believe yourself to be -- will affect and determine your habits:

It’s hard to change your habits if you never change the underlying beliefs that led to your past behavior.  You have a new goal and a new plan, but you haven’t changed who you are.

So the question is, “Who do you want to be?”  For me, as a believer, this was the easiest part of the book to work through. 

 I know who I am…

  • I am a child of the risen Savior
  • I am a daughter of the King
  • I have been forgiven and rescued
  • I no longer need anything but Him

Done.  Next question…

I continued through the book, but this absolutely stopped me in my tracks:

As you latch on to that new identity, those same beliefs can hold you back from the next level of growth.  When working against you, your identity creates a kind of pride that encourages you to deny your weak spots and prevents you from truly growing.

At this point, my internal alarm bells were going off...  

“How on earth could an identity rooted firmly in Christ keep me from truly growing?”

He goes on to explain how, as life changes and challenges come, your identity may not be able to withstand the change.  A CEO whose entire identity is wrapped up in running his company, for example, struggles to know who he really is when that company is sold.  

(Cue my lightbulb moment).

Ahhh... if my identity is in Christ, the God who will not and cannot change (Malachi 3:6), then I have nothing to worry about.  

And that’s true.  

But as I pondered the concept of my identity, it occurred to me: Had I let my identity as a Christian overwhelm my identity in Christ?  Is my identity rooted in a “culture of Christianity,” rather than in Christ, himself?  If so, my identity isn’t so sure.  I’m not really following Christ at all; I’m following a culture.

I believe the enemy uses this as one of his strongest weapons for pulling us away from our faith.  It nearly destroyed mine.

Ever since my childhood, I have identified as a Christian.  As a teenager, all my friends were Christians.  I only listened to Christian music.  My family identified as Christians.  All of this was fine, but when college came, so did the challenges.  Professors openly mocked my faith, non-Christian friends began to poke at my belief system, and doubts crept in.  Could I believe the Bible?  I panicked.

I was frightened to challenge my faith.  If I dug too hard, I feared I would discover something I couldn’t handle; that the Jesus of the Bible wasn’t real.  I knew if I came to that conclusion, I would lose everything--my relationships, my world view, the very rudder of my life.

So, I chickened out. 

I ignored the hard questions because I didn’t want to lose my faith, my relationships, my culture, my identity.  I was willing to practice my faith, even if I doubted it.

I’m ashamed to admit it, but this lasted almost a decade of my adult life.  I never formally walked away from my faith, but God and I both knew… these questions had to be answered.

Mercifully, God brought some amazing Bible teachers into my life who slowly, patiently began to answer every question.  As I dug deep into the Christian faith and began to ask the hard, awful questions, I began to find the truth.

And you know, in my arrogance, I think I was trying to protect Christianity.

“I couldn’t possibly ask this of God.  What if he can’t answer the question?  What if he fails to address all the doubts the world can throw at Him?”

Graciously, God showed me years ago that He doesn’t need me to protect Him from the world’s questions.  He can answer each and every one of them.  

Are there questions and doubts lurking in your faith?  

Do you ever wonder, “Is the Bible a bunch of fairy tales?  Is it possibly true?”

Ask the questions!

God is waiting to answer every single one of them.  I took every doubt I had, one by one, and laid it at His feet.  He has never failed to answer them, whether through his Word, through science, through history, through archaeology -- every piece of evidence I needed, He provided.

Jesus said to the Samaritan woman…

You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.  But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.  God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”   John 4:22-24

Jesus wants your worship to be in truth.  He does not want a show of your Christianity.  He wants your heart.  He wants to be your identity so you are never shaken.  Whatever your struggle is, take it directly to Him without shame or trying to conceal it.  He is willing and ready to accept your worship in spirit and in truth.