Read part 1 here
I never realized that what I had been taught throughout most of my life was actually antithetical to what the Scripture teaches about our lives in Jesus.
While people at the churches I grew up attending won’t admit it, they actually advocate a works-based system of following Christ. Doctrines like “rededication,” “letting go and letting God,” and “the victorious life” run rampant through these churches. There’s more of a focus on someone’s external condition than on his/her internal condition.
I could go to camp every year and “rededicate” my life to Christ but never actually follow him. And that’s exactly what I did. I prayed a prayer when I was a child, and everyday between 1989 and 2007 I lied. I lied because I didn’t really have a clue who Jesus was. I lied because I’d never encountered him, and it seemed like everyone else did.
I even lied to myself.
I came up with this elaborate story of how, when I was just five years old sometime in November of 1989, I was sitting in my grandmother’s living room, my aunt told me about Jesus, and I “accepted him into my heart” that day.
I was too afraid of not having a story that I made one up.
And somehow I believed it.
I really wanted to be a Christian, but I think I got so caught up in looking like a Christian that I never had the opportunity to find out what it really meant to be one. I felt so much pressure on me to live up to a certain standard, but I could never measure up.
The year I discovered rock music was devastating. I wrestled with it because I knew it was something that was sinful yet strangely enjoyable. While I couldn’t find anything inherently wrong with it, I knew it had to be sinful because my pastor said it was.
And I couldn’t piecemeal my life. If I broke one Christian rule, according to James 2.10, I was guilty of breaking all of it. So the fact that I liked rock music meant that I had broken all of God’s commands. Since I wasn’t completely surrendered to Christ, I was a carnal Christian, and by conclusion, of no use to God’s Kingdom.
But I tried to compartmentalize. If no one at church found out that I listened to rock music, I’d be fine. I looked like a good Christian, so therefore I must have been a good Christian.
But all that pressure to live my life according to what they claimed were God’s standards was eating away at me more than I ever realized at the time. Now add to that pressure cooker puberty, curiosity, and a new toy called the Internet. . .