The Rev. Graham BairdThe Rev. Graham Baird of Mission Street Church said that some of the most influential Christians of all time began as skeptics.
C.S. Lewis, for example, considered himself an atheist for many years before becoming a self-proclaimed “dejected and reluctant convert.”
Where's the story?2 Points Mentioned
Augustine, another famous theologian, studied Manichaeism and Neoplatonism before embracing Christianity.
“The Christian faith we have is something we have to experience personally,” Baird said. “It takes some initiative on our part to find and seek that out.”
The lead pastor cited Luke 2:15 to show it is OK—and even important—for people to test their faith.
The passage of the Christmas story shows the shepherds’ skeptical reaction to the news that the son of God had been born.
It says, “When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’”
Baird said the shepherds did not accept the news at face value but instead went to meet the infant the angels described.
“I love that the shepherds are not quite sure about this,” he said. “They are kind of dubious in their hearts about it and decide to go and see for themselves.”
The pastor at the “nondenominational church with a Presbyterian slant” said the verse is relevant year-round.
Those who attend Mission Street are encouraged to ask questions.
The church, which recently celebrated its first anniversary, meets every Sunday at the Edwards movie theater in Camarillo. It will hold its Christmas Eve services at 5 and 7 p.m. at Spanish Hills Country Club.
“The Christian faith is one of those things that, at a lot of churches, you just have to accept and believe,” Baird said. “For some people, a faith that is based in accepting truths is good enough, but I think God can offer more and that ‘more’ is something that is really real.”
For the fourth-generation pastor it took a hiatus from Christianity during college—a decision that caused him to spiral into a deep depression, he said—for him to fully appreciate the need for God in his life.
“There is nothing like a serious liberal arts college to knock stuff out of you,” he said. “What brought me back (to Christianity) was this deep sense that what I was trying wasn’t working. I asked for God’s intervention and, slowly but surely, my life began to improve.”
Baird said there are many ways to experience the Christian religion.
It can be as simple as seeing God in a beautiful sunset or as complex as studying the Bible for accuracy.
“People always say the Bible contradicts itself and, of course, like any multiple narrative, it does because people have different perspectives,” he said. “But, historically speaking, historians have given a lot of veracity to a lot of things the Bible has said.”
For that reason and others, the pastor encourages people to take a cue from the shepherds.
“There are things in life we really have to experience for ourselves,” he said. “The Christian faith is one of those things.”
(The aforementioned article was published in the Camarillo, Acorn Newspaper on Friday, Dec. 18, 2015)