Decisions about spiritual belief (the type that truly changes a person’s behavior) are not made overnight, but rather represent the sum of a series of smaller choices regarding a God, mankind and the world we live in. Before a person (or child) can chooses to believe in God, several intellectual checkpoints must first be met. Dr. Stephen Sewell refers to these stepping stones as micro decisions of faith.
Higher power – There are two possible ways to view the world, either man is at the center of it all (and is therefore in charge) or God is. There is no other alternative. The complexity of creation and man’s persistent mortality (despite our best efforts to delay or do away with death) support the thinking that the world did not come into existence on its own but by the hands of a powerful creator. FOR OUR KIDS: we try to point out little things everyday that God made to help our kids understand that God exits and how powerful He is.
God’s goodness – If God exists, that begs the question, what is He like? The vast majority of people believe in a higher power but many have a difficult time believing that God is truly good. The suffering, pain and injustice we see in the world make it difficult to reconcile God’s justice with the reality of our at times painful existence. We must understand though that intimately connected with the existence of God is the reality that by definition God has more wisdom, insight and understanding we do. This calls into question man’s ability to challenge the goodness or sovereignty of God.
Despite the difficulties we all face there is a still great deal of goodness and common grace that we all experience and this is most certainly not of our own doing. FOR OUR KIDS: We try to give God the credit He deserves for the good things He allows us to experience. We also try to also point out goodness that comes from struggle.
Sin/Trespass – While the debate about God’s goodness may continue, there is no question about the brokenness of man. Our world is a fallen, dark and imperfect place and each of us has a part to play. Inside the soul of every human in an intrinsic understanding of good and bad. How is that and where did it come from? It would take both a perfect and powerful God to put an understanding inside the heart of man as to what true goodness really is, and this is exactly what we find within conscience of every living being. We know what is good, just as we know that we don’t do good all the time. We have all broken the rules God made for his people. FOR OUR KIDS: The book of Romans teaches that “from the law (rules) comes the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20) One of the greatest gifts we can give our kids is to teach them about right and wrong and help them identify when and how often they fall short.
Need – Broken people need grace, forgiveness and a second chance but more than anything else they need to be fixed and made right again. Our world is full of broken people who are looking to be fixed, forgiven and made right again. Trying to act less broken or living a “good” life relative to other “more broken” people is not a viable solution. We have a problem that needs to be fixed and we can’t do it on our own, despite the intensity of our efforts. We need forgiveness, a fresh start, a new heart and someone to save us from our current state of affairs . FOR OUR KIDS: Each child will understand their need for a savior in their own time. We must remain patient and point them to God and his word rather than a life of constant comparison, “good” living or behavioral modification.
Jesus / Cross – A God who disregards the trespasses of his people is unjust, not good, and not worth believing in. This is what every world religion, save Christianity, holds to as the path for salvation. In the word’s of Pastor David Chadwick, “there are two world’s religions, do and done.” In choosing to become a Christian we do more to earn God favor but rest is what Jesus did on the cross. Jesus is the only historical figure who lived a prefect life, defeated death and fixed the problem of our sin forever but taking the punishment we deserved upon himself. He offers us a new start and freedom from brokenness and the promise of eternal life. No other belief system compares.
Awareness of these micro decisions of faith can be helpful as we walk beside our friends, neighbors, coworkers and children in their own faith journey. The diagram below can serve as a road map for the issues our friends and family are facing, give us insight into the questions they might be asking and provide clues for how to support them in better understanding the world around them and the God who created it.
* Below adapted from Dr. Stephen Sewell, Medical Campus Outreach Bible Study, Temple, TX, 2010