[Out of Turn] James 1:5-6
At the suggestion of anonymous, who does most of the commenting here (I can't complain, I'm staying anonymous myself), I have skipped ahead and read James 1:5-6, which deals with the concept of faith.
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.Passages like this comforted me when I was younger, and, I believe, less wise. I remember being six years old, and being told that a person who dies while wearing a brown scapular will go straight to heaven. The exact quote was "Whoever dies wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire." I believed every word. Did that faith save me? Could it have? Was I free to blaspheme and sin, even kill people, as long as I was wearing that key to heaven around my neck?
Looking back, the concept was absurd. But I had faith in it. I wore that thing to bed. I wore it to school. I wore it to basketball and soccer and baseball practices. I wore it until it fell off my neck. And when that happened, I was horrified, because I knew that if something were to happen to me before I could get another scapular, I'd have to get into heaven the old-fashioned way, with good works, repentance and the mercy of the Lord.
Another commentor wrote that I need to seek advice from someone in my church. I am afraid to do this. I value the love and community I share with my church. But I am not sure I believe all that they believe. And I am dearly afraid that, if I even express my doubts, I will be a pariah. I do not want that.
No, if I am going to speak to someone, I'm afraid it will have to be someone from another church, in another town, who doesn't know me, and doesn't know my name, and doesn't know my congregation. Because the question I am asking is a question that the people in my church dare never ask. In essence, it boils down to this: is my Bible (New King James version) God's roadmap to everlasting life, or is it just a brown scapular? And if it is just a brown scapular, where is the right map? I want faith, but not just blind faith. I also want confidence.
The simple believes every word,I'm trying to consider well my steps. It isn't easy.
But the prudent considers well his steps. (Proverbs 14:15)