People say, “The older I get the less I know”.
I have come to realize that this is more of a true statement then I would like to admit.
I grew up in a “typical Christian home” where most things seemed black and white. I knew what was right and wrong. At least that is how I describe it in my ‘testimony’. In many ways I am incredibly thankful for the home that I was raised in by my parents and the hard work the put in to raise me. But sometimes I envy those who’s lives were a wreck in some way and then had a visible, dramatic transformation when they found God.
Or should I say, when God found them.
Either way, I sometimes wish their story was my own. A story in which I would be able to look back on my life and proclaim, “See, this is what God did in my life. I was ‘this’ and did ‘that’, but then God dramatically transformed me”.
Maybe that is why I like Paul so much in the Bible; I love how his story is dramatic and compelling. There is a clear distinction from what he was to who he is. There is no fogginess in his ‘testimony’. He killed Christians and then dramatically turned into one.
I grew up in the church.
Fortunately, I haven’t killed anyone. I haven’t been in jail. I wasn’t even a rebellious wild child. The closest thing I ever got to rebellious was hanging out occasionally with the wild ones in high school.
Basically, I don’t have anything different that happened before I became a Christian.
And how was I suppose to? At 7 years old there was only so much wildness and rebellion that I could accomplish before my conversion.
I cringe when I hear people talk about what they did in their youth or sordid past and use the phrase, “Before I was a Christian”, as if that absolves or changes what they are today. Somehow I can’t use that phrase because I was saved at such a young age. So then do I have no excuse? Does being a Christian now change everything?
Does it change your ability to make bad decisions, screw up less and appear better then you were before?
The only thing that changed was that God lives and works through me.
And that death is dead to me thanks to Him.
It does’t negate the sin nature that is in all of us.
I become frustrated even more when I look at my own life and I don’t have the excuse “before I was a Christian”.
It’s as if “before I was a Christian” nullifies everything, and by everything, I mean sin and the nature of it.
Somehow after you become a Christian it changes everything. By everything, your ability to sin and do wrong.
When I turn and look inward at my own sin and struggles I feel shame and helpless to talk to anyone in the church because I don’t have my “before I became a Christian” in my stack of cards. I have the lowly 2 of clubs.
The judgement of, “You were a Christian at the time right?” expression on faces which are usually followed by the thoughts of, “How could he have done that and be a Christian?” Which usually leads to, “He was being disobedient to God” kind of thoughts. I know these thoughts because I’ve thought myself about other Christians. And these thoughts permeate through conversations as well amongst well-meaning Christians.
For this reason I have often thought on many occasions, “I want that ace of spades card that trumps everything, the holy grail of all lines in the church (love this pun by the way), “That was before I was a Christian.”
It’s almost as if you can’t talk much about anything really bad that you have done as a Christian. Just about the only thing you can ask prayer for in small groups and gatherings after you become a Christian are the light sins. You know the ones I’m talking about, “Please pray for me because I’m really struggling with patience today.” Or maybe, “Please help me love my neighbor well.”
I feel I have to live this fake, sissified, and mostly unauthentic life called the Christian journey, or whatever other cliche term is used.
I want another card to play besides my lousy 2 of clubs. Can I at least get a queen of hearts?
Maybe a joker.
Thats the card I play.
The one that says I’m fine.
I’m doing great, I really am.
But I’m really thinking, “I would tell you how I really am if only I had the ace of spades.”
What if there weren’t any cards?
What if this was an even playing field? The christian life isn’t focused on the cards you were dealt but rather a real authentic life. A life that still is affected by sin no matter if you are a Christian or not.
I would rather live an authentic life then hide behind a mask.
Anyone ever feel like this?
“Salvation is not magic. We’re still in a fallen world.” -Francis Schaeffer