Much love to the Brethren at La Vista and to you brother.
You heard from me a few years ago. My situation is much better than before, but I still have struggles and questions. I suffer from Autism, SchizoAffective, and BiPolar Type 2.
Recently, I was rebaptized as I felt like it was needed and have continued in my walk albeit not without difficulty. I have very intrusive thoughts and sometimes I wonder if I truly want God or is it because of my thoughts.
To clarify some issues: Before I got rebaptized, I had fallen into the mire of hating God. I resented Him for the evils in the world and for His seeming inaction in the face of injustice. One night, I was sitting on the back porch of my apartment and mulling things over in my head. Several Scriptures began to come to mind and although I had been denying it, deep down I knew the Bible to be the truth. The very next day I contacted the local brethren and went to be baptized.
Here's where fear number one comes in. Was my baptism legitimate? This has plagued me for some time now. It goes into would God have accepted my baptism? I'm worried that it was on a whim and not truthful, but when I went into the water I was doing it and accepting Christ as my Savior. I know it seems like a dumb question, and I apologize but I'm scared. I know in my soul that the wrath of God is real, and I don't want to be disobedient.
Two is the issue of halfheartedness. Sometimes I'll do things I know God wants me to do, but I do it out of fear of punishment, even though at times I'd rather do my own thing. My question here is with the intrusive thoughts. It's difficult to explain, but I don't want to be half-hearted in my service. So it's like if I do it out of fear of God, even if I don't always want to, does God still accept it or does it fall in the category of Cain's offering?
I'm glad you wrote again. I get so many letters that I don't remember what you wrote before, but that doesn't matter for the questions that you've asked this time.
You have quite a number of issues that you are dealing with. I know many people with just one of the problems that you have and I know it is hard on them. Having three at once must be very trying.
While the issue is passed, let's talk a moment about the hatred toward God. I don't know if you noticed, but it is easy for people to blame the first person they see, and often the first person is the very person standing boldly against the problem. God made the universe to be very good (Genesis 1:31). Men are made righteous (Ecclesiastes 7:29), but men have sought out sin instigated and promoted by Satan. God works to save men from their own mistakes (II Peter 3:9). Why are there injustices? Because there are men who rebel against their Creator. Is God inactive against sin? Not hardly. The Bible is filled with examples of all that God has been doing to counter evil. Don't mistake a lack of knowledge of what God is doing for inaction or not caring. "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!" (Romans 11:33).
Fear of men is foolish, but fear of God is appropriate. "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28). Have you thought about the response to the first gospel sermon? Peter charged his audience with killing God's Son. "Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Brethren, what shall we do?'" (Acts 2:37). These people were scared of the thought of what God's response would be to their actions! "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge" (Proverbs 1:7). You were afraid of what your sins would cause and you did something about it. That isn't wrong. You did what is right.
You are concerned that it was a whim, but the Bible teaches that when you know what you ought to do, you don't delay. "For He says, 'At the acceptable time I have listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.' Behold, now is 'the acceptable time,' behold, now is 'the day of salvation'" (II Corinthians 6:2). This why those gathered at Pentecost were baptized that same day. This is why the Philippian jailer was baptized at the same hour of the night in which he learned the truth.
There is a proper place for fear. Obedience because of fear is not half-hearted service. It is true, that while we are new Christians, we don't always see the benefits of doing things God's way. Sometimes we have to make ourselves do what is right. Sometimes we have to deny the urges to sin that are so tempting. These are just a part of the growth that comes as a Christian. "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded" (James 4:7-8). You do realize that James is writing to Christians, don't you?
The problem is that you are not giving yourself time to grow. You are expecting more from yourself than is reasonable. You think you are going to be a mature, rock-solid Christian on the day after your baptism. That is just not going to happen. No more than a woman giving birth to a baby will have her adult child moving out the house the next day. "Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord" (I Peter 2:1-3). Then one day, after you have grown to be a mature Christian, you will come to realize that fear is no longer your primary motivation for serving God. Your matured love will have driven out the fear because you know you are doing what God wants you to do. "By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love" (I John 4:17-18).
Now, because of your ailments, it will likely take you longer to reach maturity. That isn't a bad thing so long as you are growing. In fact, all of us are growing. I remember my grandfather, a gospel preacher in his 60s saying, "There isn't a day that I open up my Bible and learn something new from it." I'm in my 60s now and he was right. There is always more to learn and more to improve in your life. It isn't the level of maturity that you reach but the fact that you are maturing that matters to God. "Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).