What will you say to people when they begin asking about your faith?
Naturally, it will always be contextual. That is the nature of how God does things. Sure, you could come up with some slogans that outline what we teach here; the whole idea of that outline of our covenant was to give you a head start on doing that. But slogans are a broadcast, not a conversation. Don’t forget: One of our slogans is that everything is personal. You have respond as an individual person to an individual person. Even when you preach and teach to large audiences, you still have to sense the character and personality of the audience, because it will be a different mood each time.
Faith itself has to be alive and growing.
I would suggest there is a way to prepare yourself. First and foremost, we promote the heart-led way as the foundation for everything. You need to be ready to talk about that. Be familiar with what scientists have said about it — that the heart is a unique organ with a sensory field reaching 10-15 feet (3-5 meters). It has its own “brain” of sorts. Then you can move into discussing how that sensory field can directly discern and process moral truth on its own. Talk about how God’s moral character pervades all of Creation. The brain is designed to learn from the heart, but we have to unlearn a lot of bad mental habits.
Secondarily, we assert that this is how folks in the Bible did things. That may be a little harder to back up, because it requires knowing how to tell people that research into Ancient Near Eastern cultures shows this, not least via literature outside the Bible. Still, we assert this as a basic assumption of everything we do. You cannot understand the Bible without first taking the heart-led path, because that’s the nature of the Bible itself.
But the necessity of breaking bad mental habits can take any number of directions. You have to use your own heart to discern their real needs, yet based on what you have to offer. God grants us the power of discernment; learn to use it. The biggest thing is noticing patterns of self-defeating habits, just as you do with yourself. People have allowed themselves to be blinded by the lies of the Devil. That’s the nature of this world.
A major element in healing is humility. Nobody moves forward without it. Not as a choice of human logic, but it is the primary symptom of the Holy Spirit. He is not present if you don’t see humility and gratitude. And without His Presence, there is no help for anyone on this earth. You are limited to encouragement from afar until you see signs of humility.
After that, there are any number of paths to help them realize that God’s revelation is reality. There’s an awful lot of falsehood that seems to work, but it’s always lacking the eternal element. You also need to understand the common experience of most people who embrace the truth.
At first, there is a huge balloon of joy and contentment. It’s rather like falling in love, and it’s easy for people to slip off into cathexis* without actually committing to God. Watch out for false substitutes to genuine faith; emotional responses are not the thing itself. For most people who do take the right path, there will be an early shock to their unconscious expectations. Most handle this very poorly, trying to snap back into their old ways because something didn’t turn out as they had expected. Initial excitement turns into sorrow quite suddenly.
This jerking back and forth is quite typical, and often repeats in steps until enough crap is removed from their minds to settle in for the long haul. This is how God deals with most people because it’s the nature of our false culture. We suffer from layers of lies, and each has to be broken in turn. And our culture has stolen from us the kind of patience and hard-nosed commitment natural to faith. This is why I keep warning about the false image of the heart in our culture; the lie that the heart is a repository of sentiment is easily one of the most deadly deceptions. It’s the heart that keeps us moving forward into faith.
Finally, I’ll suggest that people really need to grasp the spiritual truth that seeks to grasp us. We should be eager to leave this world. This is the core of Christian Mysticism: We don’t love this world. It is slated for destruction. The only reason we stick around at all has nothing to do with our personal dreams and our families, etc. We stick around because God’s glory is not finished with us. Our mission in this world isn’t done until God says it’s done. We exist for His glory. We must come to the place where we embrace that instead of trying to pull away from it for the sake of anything else. This is your best interest, and the best interest of everyone you love. His glory is the answer to everything.
This is just a rough guide, a way to get you started thinking about how you’ll answer when the first crisis hits and things start falling apart. That day is closer than any of us knows.
* “Cathexis” in this context is a term to describe the overwhelming intense emotional high typically associated with juvenile infatuation.