Again we were sitting in church with a good Baptist preacher preaching. Now I grew up primarily Baptist, although not totally. I think I went to at least four different denominations, but one of those was Baptist, and the others were similar. But as I grow, I am questioning my theology.
I've questioned what I was taught and not taught about the Holy Spirit.
I've questioned what I was taught and not taught about transparency among believers and the effort to appear perfect.
This week I questioned what I had been taught about sinners. I even spoke to the pastor about it afterward. You see, I had been taught this basic line: "God does not listen to sinners. The only prayer He will hear from a sinner is 'Lord, be merciful to me a sinner" (or some version of 'forgive me, I'm wrong').)
Theologically, it makes sense. God listens to the righteous. His eyes are towards those who do good and away from the wicked.
The problem was the more and more I listened to people who came to believe out of the religion we work among, the more I found this to be untrue. I think in our defense of this line of thought we forget one fact.
God is unexplainably merciful. Above and beyond what we think, He has mercy.
He also greatly desires that we have a relationship with Him. He desired that so, so much that He was willing to send Jesus to suffer by living among us and dying for our sins.
So why would He sit in heaven and turn a deaf ear to all petitions unless they were humble petitions for forgiveness?
I have come to believe and have seen and have experienced that God will often answer sinner's prayers. Why? I believe it is one of the means He has of drawing people to Himself. You see, in the people we work with, women have very little value. Some people even question if women have a soul or if they can even understand anything about God. Yet women suffer greatly. They have heartbreaking needs. And like anyone in desperation, they long to cry out to God to meet their needs. Some may have even heard the name of Jesus, and in absolute desperation cry out to Him. Others simply cry out to God.
And then He answers their prayer. Even though they are sinners.
The result, that I have seen, is that they are shocked. Who is this God that listens to even a woman's prayer? And they begin to seek Him. What does God say about those who seek? That He will let them find Him.
So I no longer believe what was drilled into my head as a child. In fact, as I grow, I become less and less inclined to try to define the box I expect God to live in. Yes, there are still very important doctrines that I will NOT compromise on, but there are things like this that I stop and say, "hey. wait. Do I really believe that God limits Himself this way?" I don't. God works in many ways to bring people to Himself. One of those is answering sinner's prayers.
What have you learned to question as you've grown?