This is the very first year that I am celebrating Christmas as a (“born-again”) Christian.
2016 has truly been the best, most joyful, astounding year of my life.
If you are reading this post, I would like you to know that no matter which faith you are in, it is my privilege to share this with you.
I felt compelled to share a little more about my very own former “aethist mentality”.
On hindsight, the transition was definitely not a one-day affair and definitely not a sudden decision to believe.
It took a lot of painful questioning, reflection, reading, researching and slow un-scaling of eyes of the heart.
Finally, the heart decided to surrender itself to the Lord.
As someone who was super sketical, I preferred not to question.
Below are just some characteristics of a “lazy, unquestioning” Aethist that lived in a system for 27 and half years of my life.
1. My main identity was built around the “wrong” things.
I grew up in a secular family. I used to think that believing in a God would be “crampin my style”, and that having a God seemed so restrictive.
Rules sounded oppressive, a sense of imprisoning, and feels “inapplicable” to me. Basically, I didn’t like the sound of rules or boundaries. A lot of my life decisions subconsciously followed what made me “feel good” — pursue your dreams, be happy, break the rules.
Basically, I preferred to deny the existence of God at my convenience, without really thinking about why I did!
Or maybe, as long as I don’t think about whether there’s a God, that means he doesn’t exist!
Even if there was a God, an upper being who created everything, He didn’t need to have a say in my life.
After all, what could be more important than the stuff of my life?
I had my family, my friends, my career, my dog, fitness, social media, how matching my outfit is or even how I even sound online – whether I’m wise, funny in a non-awkward way, poetic or any other latest socially acceptable form of trendy behaviour. My life felt complete as I thought,
The ego had to fill itself up with things. And so it did with these things. For others, it could be slaving to that dream job, or achieving #relationshipgoals or #familygoals.
(P.S I am not implying that these stuff in life are not important, however)
2. I had Spiritual Pride and thought I was in full control of my life.
I had some sort of Spiritual Pride – “the illusion that we are competent to run our own lives, achieve our own sense of self-worth and find a purpose big enough to give us meaning in life without God.”
And that was an endless wild goose chase.
As a former aethist, I would be extremely offended at this particular definition.
After all, I don’t need anybody to tell me what my sense of self-worth and purpose should be.
It’s all up to me to define them, right?
Accompanied with that belief are the set of questions very commonly asked by fellow aethist friends as well.
“I’m a good person. I don’t need a God to teach me how to be good.”
“How come some Christians do bad stuff and get away with it?”
“How can all people come from Adam and Eve?”
“A God is just for WEAK people.”
“Why would a loving God send people to hell?”
If the following questions resonate with you, one of the above is well addressed by world-renowned Christian Apologist and Defender of the faith, Ravi Zacharias. A well-respected speaker, who “has direct contact with key leaders, senators, congressmen, and governors who consult him on an ongoing basis.”, he was also even invited to speak twice at the Annual Prayer Breakfast at the United Nations in New York, which marks the beginning of the UN General Assembly each year.
Just a simple contrast between Mr Zacharias’s deliverance of his speeches with that of world-renowned aethist Richard Dawkin, known for his best-selling book (“The God Delusion”), we can observe Mr Zacharias’s grace, poise and with no intention to provoke his questioners.
I do wish we could witness a live debate between Mr Zacharias and Mr Dawkins, but his schedule most likely only allow time for peacemaking seminars.
3. I thought I was a good person.
As long as my common sense tells me not to lie, cheat, steal or murder, I walk as a good person on society’s moral grounds and legal obedience.
The word ‘sin’ felt blameful. Felt accusatory.
But, in essence, it really means unprofitable behaviour – that it is more than just killing, stealing, cheating and lying.
My biggest misconception of sin was that it only refers to only outrightly and morally “bad stuff” committed.
But here’s the broader view of sin – it is an organic pest that breeds from a bad thought. It breeds the moment it has its opportunity.
Just like cancer cells, sin multiplies and proliferates to breed tumours quicker than we can ever treat it.
And they give rise to spiritual tumours like pride, greed, envy, jealousy, gluttony etc. These tumours harm relationships with others.
Temptations to gossip (pride) , ogling looks at a person (lust) , buying expensive things over giving to those in need (greed/covetedness), desire to seek pleasure from fame and wealth (envy), indulging in vengeful or violent thoughts (wrath) are always around and lurking.
Like cancer and its unpredictable mutations, root of sin manifests in all forms and variations, even when we think it is harmless.
On a side note, if common sense is all we need, how are we to assume that a serial murderer’s common sense is the same as one of a civilian’s?
4.I thought “being yourself” was liberating.
Needless to say, I played hopscotch with multitudes of “Be Yourself” self-fulfiling philosophies.
Skipping from different streams of “be yourself” messages out there in the media, it all led to a river of confusion.
“It is a trap to say we should not worry about living up to everyone else’s standards, just set our own. That’s not an answer. Boosting our self-esteem by living up to our own standards or someone else’s sounds like a great solution.
But it does not deliver. It cannot deliver. I cannot live up to my parents’ standards – and that makes me feel terrible. I cannot live up to your standards – and that makes me feel terrible. I cannot live up to society’s standards – and that makes me feel terrible. I cannot live up to other societies’ standards – that makes me feel terrible.
Perhaps the solution is to set my own standards? But I cannot keep them either – and that makes me feel terrible, unless I set incredibly low standards. Are low standards a solution? Not at all. That makes me feel terrible because I realize I am the type of person who has low standards.
Trying to boost our self-esteem by trying to live up to our own standards or someone else’s is a trap. It is not an answer.”
God is like a loving father to his child. He sets His house standards, and unlike how one might view it as restrictive, His boundaries are loving, and protects us from self-destructing ourselves because of society’s worldly standards.
5. I believed in evolution simply because it looked logical.
As a former aethist, I believed strongly in evolution, admittedly stemming from ignorance and just because it was taught in school.
Today, there are a lot of heated debates over this, that it’s either the creationist way or another.
Still, there are some questions yet to be answered.
If we came from apes, where are the apes in mid-transition?
Did the chicken or egg come first?
How did the first organic molecule DNA come about from random collisions of non-living, inorganic substances?
I never thought about these questions until I read The Reason For God. After much thought and a deeper dive into cell biology, I have come to the conclusion that I have no problem accepting that God created humans from the very beginning.
The complexity and inter-dependance of the different biological systems plus the unique physiology of each organelle, cell and tissue makes it hard to imagine that each part can come about without the other.
Just like a computer program that has very unique functions, it requires an intelligent mind to design it just as the human body does.
There are many differing views on this topic, one in which evolution could jolly well be compatible with the Christian faith. Regardless, this whole topic has provoked a series of questioning in relation to the Book of Genesis, which made me further in awe of God’s amazing works.
Also, below is a very interesting video that gives us an insight regarding the thought process of disagreement.
(The host could come on a little strong at some parts, so I do recommend keeping your mind open. If you find that you would like to have a discussion, I’m very happy to take it into a private chat or email. )
The overall goal isn’t to reinforce a belief on anyone, but to re-open a door of thought about why one thinks the way he or she does. I do admit that I still do have a lot of reading and researching to be done on proposed theories, but what God has shown me supercedes any reason to waiver my faith for Him.
If you’re constantly searching for the meaning and purpose of life, then question of whether the chicken or egg came first could be one of vital importance.
Even if you believe in the scientist, question the science itself. For having belief in science without questioning is still faith without questioning. A great way to continue learning!
If you’re interested, here’s another interview video on evolution.
As of by far, we have not have any concrete evidence to prove inter-species evolution. Most of them would point back to the Galapagos Finch, even though the birds still remained as birds. I recalled this as primary school textbook information, and it’s still only the one that professors at college level could use as concrete evidence (but it’s classified under natural adaptation rather than inter-species evolution).
Whether you’re working hard into the wee hours and doubting yourself, or wondering why you’re back to square one of depression after a month of getting your $XXXXX pay increment, or giving up your career as a woman in this “super-mom” society.
With Christ, there is only gain. This means
for each and every one of us.
Love taught in the movies has us looking for it all in the wrong places, when the true love
- the love of God -
has been knocking on our doors all the time, just whether we choose to answer it.
It was a matter of whether I was willing to drop my pride.
It was a matter of whether I was willing to take back my words and ask for forgiveness for my ignorance.
And till this day, I submitted my life and never looked back.
To end this off, to all of us who are His children, may the verse Jeremiah 36:12 tug your hearts this Christmas:
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.