By Ron Price … A cowboy rode into town on Friday, stayed three days, and rode out again on Friday. How did he do that?

To those of you who came up with the answer, congratulations. For the rest of you, stay tuned.

In this column, I intend to challenge your thinking without giving too much direction on what your thinking should or should not be.

Some years ago, I saw a statistic that said 21% of atheists claim they believe in God. Say what? That got me to wondering what percentage of Christians believe in God, and whether their lives give evidence of their belief?

How many professing Christians, Seventh-day Adventists for that matter, are intentionally walking with, living for, and serving the Lord Jesus Christ? How many would describe their Christian experience as joyful and an integral component of their lives?

Lest you fear this will be a Seventh-day Adventist-bashing read, let me assure you that is not the case. We all have seen or heard of “Christians” from many denominations whose lives indicate their profession is shallow or misguided. Or we know of others who seem burdened by their faith rather than buoyed.

I believe this problem is due in part to two main factors: how people view God and how they view themselves.

Do you view God as a supernatural tyrant who must be worshipped or else? Perhaps you see Him as a scorekeeper who jots down your few successes and numerous failures? Do you view God as a big buddy in the sky who only wants you to live in complete peace, joy, and happiness?

In my opinion, neither of these views is correct or justified. They will, however, profoundly impact how you worship and follow Him. False beliefs of God should come as no surprise since our common enemy has spent millennia seeking to distort, minimize, and degrade His true nature.

Have you heard the song “I’m just a sinner saved by Grace?” I don’t believe that is true. Oh, it is undoubtedly true that I am a sinner and in need of God’s grace. But, since I have accepted that grace, by His definition, I am now a saint and no longer “just” a sinner saved by grace. I can walk in joy for the “joy of the Lord is my strength” (Neh 8:10). I may now revel in the Truth that I am not condemned (see Rom 8:1).

As a believer in, and follower of, the Lord Jesus Christ, it is now my privilege to come boldly and confidently into His presence and find grace and comfort to help me in my journey (see Heb 4:16). I do not ever need to think that I am a bother to my Heavenly Father or that He is not interested in me or my concerns. I have ample proof from the Bible and my personal testimony that this is just not the case. And, I dare say, so do you!

It is not sufficient to know these truths. We must accept them and apply them to our lives regularly. I say it’s time we take God at His Word and believe that He wants us to experience love, joy, peace, etc. I say we can believe Him when He says we are His “masterpiece” (Eph 2:10, NLT).

We do not need to grovel and ask God to love and lead us. We just need to accept the reality that He does. Then we can live in continuous communion with Him each day. We can read His Word with joyful expectation and pray to Him as though He genuinely cares about us and our concerns.

I fear that as Seventh-day Adventists, we sometimes focus on how imperfectly we obey God at times and therefore condemn ourselves as a result. If our walk with God is focused on guilt for failing to measure up, our witness will be severely curtailed if not eradicated altogether. Such an attitude will also limit our prayer life and connection with Him. As Pastor Craig Groeschel of Life Church in Edmond, Oklahoma, says, prayer should be our first line of offense, not our last line of defense.

We are in a battle with an enemy who only seeks to steal, kill and destroy. But praise God, Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly! (John 10:10)

By the way, the horse’s name . . . was Friday.

–Ron Price is a member of the RMC Executive Committee and lives in Farmington, New Mexico. Email him at: [email protected]