What Do You Believe?

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What Do You Believe?

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The young band of comrades approached the bridge…anticipating, apprehensive, anxious! All morning they had been traversing through terrain that was sometimes lush and cool and at other times harsh and unforgiving. All along they had been confronted with challenges—not just by the terrain itself but by subversives who sought to deceive them and cause them to fail in their mission.

Ever watchful and cautious as they approached this necessary gateway forward, these intrepid young men and women were confronted with another subversive who issued a challenge—a challenge to their integrity and cherished beliefs!

"I am the high priest of the god of this land! We have heard of your God; we have heard the myths and legends of what He has done for you. But your God does not live in this land. If you want to pass through this land, you must complete a test issued by its god," spat out the subversive.

Under threat, they were split into pairs and led down to the bridge. One trekker was confronted with a large water blaster. The subversive spoke to the second: "If you and your friend want to cross over the bridge and pass through this land, you must bow down to the altar of the god who governs this land. Bow down or else!"

OK, so it was just a game, and getting wet wasn't all that dramatic. But it makes you think, "What would I do if it were real?"

The trekkers were involved in the UCG Australian Summer Camp Challenge Hike. Each team was required to complete the hike by overcoming all nine challenges—resulting in receiving the nine fruits of the Spirit. The bridge challenge was just one of a number of tests that confronted the knowledge, beliefs and commitment of these young Christians.


Have you ever been tempted to compromise what you believe? Do you know how you would respond? How sure are you about what you believe? Many young people today go to church with their parents and thus come into contact with the Church through their family. Because of this, there can be a tendency to simply follow along—to go with the crowd—to go along to get along.

Do you believe what your parents believe? How can you know? Would it take a challenge like the one presented above for you to find out?

Jesus Christ was approached by a young man who was quite wealthy (Matthew 19:16-22). This young man enjoyed, whether by his own diligence or via inherited wealth from his family, a comfortable, self-sufficient lifestyle. In sincerity, he asked Christ what he needed to do in order to have eternal life. Christ challenged him on the keeping of the commandments. But notice that Christ did not list all the commandments—only five of them. Why was that?

It was evident that the young man thought he was doing the right thing, having kept the law of his mother and father (Proverbs 1:7-8). He had grown up with a pretty good understanding of what was expected of him. He felt he had fulfilled the law of God from his youth.

I, too, was brought up attending church from birth. My parents taught me God's laws and expectations of me. When it came time to be baptized—the equivalent of this young man asking Christ what he needed to do to have eternal life—I thought I was OK. I had kept it all from my youth! What did I need to repent of and change? What sins did I need the sacrifice of Christ to cover?

A rich young man

Christ challenged the rich young man to sell all his material possessions and share the proceeds with the poor. The young man was challenged to begin to store up treasure in heaven—spiritual treasure—and come and follow Christ.

Why did the young man get upset and discouraged by this request? Why did he turn sorrowfully away? The answer to that question may be the same as the answer to the earlier question: Why did Christ only mention five of the Ten Commandments?

While it seems that Christ simply mentioned enough of the commandments in this conversation so the young man would know which commandments He was referring to, there may have been an additional reason. Perhaps Christ didn't mention

  • the commandment against coveting, because the young man coveted his material wealth above God.
  • the First Commandment prohibiting the worship of other gods before the one true God, because the young man put his money and wealth before God.
  • bowing down to idols because the young man worshipped his riches as an idol.
  • the taking of God's name in vain because, while the young man said he wanted to obey God, he was only willing to do things that were easy.
  • the Sabbath because, well, the young man was Jewish and he would have kept it always!

We can believe firmly that we keep God's law and still not realize how much we fall short. Following Christ requires us to evaluate what we truly believe and why. Simply because we have done it as a habit from our youth isn't sufficient. God the Father and Jesus Christ are looking for our complete commitment, which includes knowledge and obedience.

What are your gods? What is it you might need to give up in order to follow Christ? Will it take a challenge at "the bridge" to find out?

The teenage years are years of transition. This is when we mature into adults and are confronted with the reality of responsibility and its consequences.

The campers at the beginning of this article were only playing a game, but in real life, all of us will be confronted with challenges to our beliefs. Via the game, some realized that they lived as they did because that is what they had always done. But did their actions have meaning? Did they know why they did what they did? Were their actions really reflecting their personal beliefs?

The challenge is to find out what meaning God's law has to our lives! There will be bridges to cross, lots of them! Do you know how you will respond?

"But I have kept the law from my youth! What is it I still lack?" VT