Question:

I'm 18 years old. I'm new to religion and seeking for wise words and maybe some answers of where to start. I have a girlfriend who, after a while, convinced me to become religious. She lives far away, so she can't really teach me much. There is also a small language barrier because what she had learned is in her native language.

I was wondering: Should one be committed to learn everything about religion? Well, at least read the Bible? And how to balance this out with your personal life?

I've tried to attend a church, but I'm very shut in and shy because it's really new to me. I'm also shy to come forward to tell people I believe. I pray at least once before I go to bed. Especially with my family, I am very afraid to tell them about my belief. I do want to tell, even convince them, though my parents are divorced and remarried. They could use a little faith. They need to learn more about forgiveness and accept mistakes.

At the same time, I truly can't stand and hate my father. Every time I try to make the relationship better between us by visiting, I get verbally abused and hurt. So badly that I shut myself in the toilet and cry. I sought for advice but others can't help me. We already tried counseling. My girlfriend says I should keep forgiving (and gave religious reasons as to why, but I can't remember them right now.) But I can't take this pain anymore. Is it bad to remove him from my life, at least for a while? I want to send him a message that I think he should change and commit to religion. He currently has no friends, even his brother doesn't want to talk to him anymore. I think his new girlfriend is ruining his life. His social problems keep getting bigger.

I'm seeking for advice and I don't know where to go. I've tried so many things. Do you have advice on where to go from here?


Answer:

"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17).

You've made a start toward improving your life, and as you suspected what you need most right now is greater knowledge of the life you want to live. It requires work on your part, but it is doable. "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (II Timothy 2:15). You can see if the preacher or someone at the church is able to study with you for a while so you can learn, or if you want, you can study with me if you are willing to commit some time each week to learning.

One aspect of being a Christian is a willingness to stand up for your belief. If you can't face hostilities to who you have become, it will be near impossible to remain faithful to Jesus. "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household'" (Matthew 10:32-36). As you learn more about Christianity, the easier it will be to express yourself with confidence regarding what you believe.

You should be always willing to forgive others, so much so that you are willing to work toward a resolution. But the actual forgiveness comes when the person doing wrong repents. "Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him" (Luke 17:3-4). It sounds like your father is going to take a lot of work. Be kind to him, but you don't have to have him in your life if he is causing you distress and harm.