By Mark Azzara
A handwritten note by Muhammad Ali, now displayed in a museum exhibit, explains why he became Muslim. To summarize, he realized he was only Christian because somebody else made him be so.
I sometimes wonder how much each of our personal belief systems is the result of the demands, insistence or piousness of others. When someone says he or she believes in God that raises a lot more questions for me than it answers.
I am grateful that God has demonstrated his love, compassion and forgiveness to me in ways that aren’t contained in any religious book or any requirement to believe. But I also recognize how blessed I am to be in that position.
Many years ago I was taught – yes, taught, in a class of adults – how to give my witness on why I believe. I appreciated the experience but I also came away from it convinced that the best I could do was to invite my listener(s) to seek the same experience of God that now anchors my faith.
Maybe it was desperation that drove me to God. I think it was God who made me aware how desperate I was – and still am, if I’m going to be fully honest. There are days when I confess I don’t know if I can get through them if God doesn’t somehow uphold me by being present to me.
I “believe” that believing is ultimately the result of experience. But unlike other aspects of human experience, to believe in God demands (at least of me) some kind of transcendental experience – the experience of being in God’s presence and/or knowing something that God alone can reveal.
You believe in what, or in whom, you know. Perhaps the saddest thing for me, as one who dares to call himself Christian, is that so many don’t ask God to make himself known to them. When God makes himself known, you know it. And you don’t forget it.
All God’s blessings – Mark
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