Reminiscing on my times of growing up in church I’m haunted of the idea of what I thought was a Christian. We would bring our friends to church in hopes that they would raise their hands and ask Jesus into their hearts. We would feel exceptionally spiritual if we could lead someone in the sinner’s prayer ourselves. Once the transition was complete there was a lot expected of this person who just said the prayer. They were instantly told of all the things they couldn’t do. They couldn’t sleep around anymore, or do drugs, or drink, or swear or smoke. They must come to church on Sundays, youth on Fridays and it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to come to a prayer meeting. You must instantly start telling all your friends about your new found faith and stop hanging out with them all at the same time; after all it’s not good to be in places that will tempt you. You must try and get your family saved, tell them about Jesus and invite them out to church so they could go through the same process. This was what it meant to be a Christian growing up in church. It meant doing the right things on the right days and restraining yourself from doing those wrong things.
Why does it seem that the further I get tangled up in Christian subculture or the church life, the less my life actually looks like Jesus’ life? The more I got involved in church, the less time I had for people who Jesus actually spent time with. The more I went to prayer meetings the less I would actually love the people I was commissioned to go and save from hell. The less I sinned the more I judged those that did sin. The more I cared about getting people saved, the less I actually cared about them.
It is because of my past with the problems above that I had to eventually re-think what it meant to be saved, follow Jesus and be a Christian. It wasn’t what I was being taught it was because when you go through their cycle of discipleship, you are only discipled to look more like them, not Jesus. I had to re-think what sin was and what righteousness was. I had to re-think what love was. I’m still a long way from understanding this. I don’t want to become a Christian in the way that I was taught, because that will simply turn me into an intolerant, self-righteous person. I will be worse off if I actually follow those teachings. So what does it mean to actually follow Jesus? This is the journey that I’m on. What do his words and actions mean for me today? Why does the church look so different and why can we justify our way out of anything that is uncomfortable?
I hope that we never get so set in our ways that we are afraid to change when things need to change. I think the biggest issue with the church right now is our fear of change. We know the truth, we know that the direction we are heading right now doesn’t make sense but we are afraid to go in that direction. It’s like telling a fifty year old that his life of chasing money made no sense and to just sell it all and give it to the poor. Telling someone to change makes them feel that if they change they are discrediting their past. It’s hard to do. It is painful. However, I don’t beleive change means that the past didn’t have its place but I do think that if we don’t change we will forfeit the present.
3 thoughts on “Exchanging This for That”
“The more I cared about getting people saved, the less I actually cared about them.”
Interesting isn’t it that we were taught by, well, everyone as far as I can remember, that saving is more important than loving. Well, it wasn’t expressed in those terms (usally), but I would say that in terms of frequent verb use, ‘save’ defintely beat out ‘love’.
For some reason, people believed that saving whatever form that took, would be the direct and more consise method of helping people to see their potential in Christ. This of course leads to all sorts of drastic (and most often anti-Christian) conclusions: war, scare-tactics, watered-down-gospel, godhatesfags.com….the list goes on.
My most recent experiences have taught me that love reflects the beauty of Christ to people 100% of the time. It paves the way for conversation and relationship; it opens lines of communication; it gives an opportunity to become actively involved in another person’s fragmented story…and who knows, maybe the love that you show will open doors that pushy, insincere and impersonal methods could not.
I pray that God would teach us that the only way that people can be ‘saved’ is to come into contact with the live-changing grace and mercy of God. The best way we can help people see this – is to love them.
Found you through Ann (Mystery of Iniquity)… wow. Good post.
God bless you,
I have been exactly where you are now.
God is faithful to lead you where He wants you to be. But we also have to be open to His Spirit knowing He will lead and guide us into all truth.
We will be praying for you.