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Standing Firm

I received an N64 as a gift recently when my cousin’s husband got one of the new, “cooler” systems. He thought I should have the old N64 if I didn’t have one. He probably gave it to me because he knows I work as a youth director and figured I should have one. In that case, he should’ve bought me a PS2 or Game Cube, oh well.

One of the games I borrowed from my little sister’s collection is a combo-pack of old arcade and Atari games. It’s a pretty cool game; it has Pac-Man, Dig-Dug, Pole Position and Galaga. If you’ve never played Galaga, you are missing out on one of the greatest games ever created. You can have your Halo; I’ll keep my spaceships and giant interstellar insects. They just don’t make games like that anymore!

The thing about Galaga, as with many old games, is that it can become rather predictable. The furthest I’ve ever gone in one sitting of Galaga is level 17. Now, every time I play, I know exactly where the insects will fly and exactly how to beat each level. I also know that if I lose a man off my fleet or get less than perfect scores on the bonus levels before level 10, I have no chance of reaching level 17, much less of beating it. So when I do lose a ship or falter on a bonus level, I stop the game and start over.

There’s a reason why they don’t make games like that anymore; they get boring. As much as I love this game, it loses its flash and flair after a while. I move back to my original Nintendo and pull out Tetris, a game that never gets predictable due to its nature.

Doesn’t the same thing happen with our faith? When mediocre or dry periods come up, we start to get bored.

The apostle Peter knew the dangers of this, which is why in 2 Peter 1:12-21 he encourages us to refresh our minds of the truth of Christ. Peter writes with the knowledge and the authority of one that stood by Christ’s side and heard the voice of God declare him to be His son, “This is my son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Peter also mentions the evidence of the prophecies and the origin of the prophecies as being from God, not from the imagination of man.

The urgency to know the truth of Christ and to refresh our memory of that truth really leaps from this passage. The human mind can become weary, especially when we start to forget this truth. During mediocre times, it is easy to simply not remember the things that brought us to Christ or amazed us about God’s glory.

Just like with Galaga, life can become predictable at times. Things can get boring. And when that happens, we often go looking for something more exciting. This is why more and more people today are searching for the “cooler” version of Christianity. We know the truth, but we want it to be more enticing sometimes. We lose our sense of amazement and go looking for a new, flashier, “spirit-filled” way.

Many people today have become addicted to the fantastical elements of Christianity. Don’t get me wrong, I fully believe in God’s ability to do whatever He wants. Healings, miracles—all this stuff does happen. But there is also something to be said about a faith that doesn’t need to be supported by amazing signs and wonders. In John 20, Jesus appears to the disciples after rising from the dead and leaving behind an empty tomb. Thomas, being of sound scientific mind like many of us today, does not believe that Christ is really alive. After all, Thomas saw his master being nailed to a cross and left to hang until dead. When Jesus appears to Thomas, he shows him the holes in his hands and once again makes a believer out of him. He then goes on to say, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Faith, by definition, “is the evidence of things unseen.” Faith is all we need. Faith is our salvation. Faith needs to be refreshed, however, otherwise we can succumb to false teachings and false prophets—the things that 2 Peter 2 speaks of.

In the second chapter, Peter warns of false teachers who will corrupt the message of Christ and turn people into their own followers. Peter also explains the fate of those who would do this and those who would follow.

The threat of heresy and blasphemy is more prevalent than you may think. Many churches that claim to be Christian carry doctrines that don’t line up with the Bible. Some religions carry aspects of Christianity and even the Bible, but change them, excluding or adding what they want. Christian Science, Jehovah’s Witness, Mormonism and many more all carry teachings that they claim come from God through the Bible and other “prophets.” Peter told us these prophets would come, and equipped us with knowledge of how not to fall under their lies.

So what do you believe, and why do you believe it? These are very important questions that deserve real attention. The Bible says not to test the Lord your God, but it also encourages questioning of truth.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

– Jesus in Matthew 7:7&8

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I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my father as well.

– Jesus in John 14:6&7

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by deceitful scheming.

– Paul on becoming mature believers, united in Christ, in Ephesians 4:14

[Chris Aytes is a writer, singer/songwriter and co-youth director with his wife, Renelle, for the First United Methodist Church, in Great Bend, Ks.]

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