I often wonder what being a Christian looks like to outsiders, and I guess that opinion can vary depending on who the person has been exposed to.
So many variables play into the way a person sees anything really. If you’ve had daddy issues or been in an abusive relationship, you’re more likely to not trust men in general. But then again, you may have a strong desire for male approval. Depending on how you were raised, you may prefer to be in control or be led. No matter the case, each person responds in their own way, with their own expectations, triggered by past experiences. Your personality type, gender and priorities factor greatly into how you react or respond to life’s journey.
I became a Christian when I was 9 years old. When I say I became a Christian, I mean that I “asked God into my heart”. To me, this means that I suddenly realized that I was a sinner (as much of a sinner as a 9 year old can be), and I accepted the gift of Christ dying on the cross in my place because I was a sinner. Did I understand what that meant? Sure. I understood salvation. I understood that the only way to get to heaven was through Jesus, and that without Him, I was lost. I got saved one night after a “Heaven’s gates, Hell’s Flame’s” play. If you don’t know what that is, don’t YouTube it because it will scare the Hell out of you- literally. I was afraid of going to Hell. In fact, I prayed many times that God “save” me when I was young because I was afraid that maybe I didn’t do it the right way. I mean God forbid that I die suddenly by falling off the jungle gym and go straight to hell because I didn’t pray the right way!
I became a Christ follower much later in life. What’s the difference, you ask? Allow me to explain this first hand. You become a Christ follower when you SEE God. No, I’m not explaining a supernatural experience, nor have I drunk any Kool-Aid lately. Perhaps a better way of putting it would be that your eyes are OPENED to God, and what He’s about. When you feel His grace and you “Let go and let God”, you free yourself of YOU, and there’s more room for Him. See, when your life is committed to God, you are aligned with His plan, and His plan is perfect. Always. As Christians, we seem to make it more about what we’re supposed to do, when He has already done what needed to be done. By doing this, we are limiting Christianity and God’s vision.
We also limit ourselves. I had a moment with God the other day. One of those “eye-opening” moments. I was praying to God about a person whom my heart was hurting for- An atheist, who had openly shared with me their views on their existence. Someone who politely listened to my viewpoints, and even politely responded that it was ok that I believed the way I did. I was particularly praying because I KNEW God had put this person in my life for a reason, but I was scared. Scared of saying the wrong thing and jeopardizing the slightest chance of them considering kicking the tires of Christianity. I was scared of the consequences I would face for confronting this person about their beliefs. Now a days, you never know what will happen when standing up for Christianity. But God calmed my fears and helped me understand (through prayer) that the consequences of this world are not His consequences.
Even going to Hell is not His consequence- it’s your choice. Consequences existed the moment a choice was made. When Adam and Eve deliberately sinned in the garden, they created consequences for actions. From that point on, we had a choice.
The point of this post, and what God has laid on my heart, is that we can’t just become a Christian for a “Get out of Hell free” pass. We also cannot become a Christian because we seek comfort- that’s essentially worshipping an idol. Being a Christian isn’t rainbows and roses. You will go through hardship, and you will be burned. The difference is- you can count on being a part of God’s plan and know that He will not harm you (Jeremiah 29:11).
I heard the most remarkable statement from my Pastor Sunday, and I will never let myself forget it. It fits perfectly into this story:
“If the only purpose to being a Christian was to go to heaven, then God would take our lives the moment we became one”.
I’m challenging myself this year to actively minister to at least my little world. I can’t be a perfect example of a Christian, but I can point you to a God who is perfect and wants you to be a part of His story. If you want to join me in this “Salt and Light” challenge, please let me know and I will personally pray for you.
Please, please, PLEASE pray for my friend, the atheist. Pray that God tugs at their heart. I don’t feel led to pursue them, but I truly believe God will open another window for me to share with them. I’m thankful to have planted the seed that I did, but it’s going to take more. It’s going to take God.