“I don’t think that most people that go to church actually love the Lord or have any intention of following him whatsoever. I think they go to church because they think it’s some sociocultural idea… they think they’re Christians because their parents were; they think they’re Christians because they’re American; and they think they’re Christians because their parents drug them to church for as far back as they can remember. It does not mean that they are. Someone saying they’re a Christian does not mean that they are one.” -Matt Chandler
Until three years ago, this was me. As early as I can remember, just about every Sunday morning was spent in a church. I can at least speak for myself when I say I didn’t care for it that much. I was a begrudging attender at best, enjoying far more the next picture I could draw or the designs I could create in that week’s bulletin (that looked oddly similar to the one the Sunday prior).
I was sent to Sunday School after the services while all the adults hung out, as if I was going to end up a good person one day. But the stories hardly differed from the ones I learned in public school–just different characters and weird plots. They were just stories being told.
In no way was any of this content–the countless art projects I brought home or the brief discussions on watered-down Bible tales–influencing who I was as a person, my existence as a human being. I could construct a picture about a lamb, cross, and wine but couldn’t acknowledge Christ the Almighty God to whose glory these objects point. In fact, I actually pulled away from the very stuff that was supposed to make me more holy, just out of the ritualistic tradition of it all. We talked about God and the love of Jesus, and I probably would have labelled myself a ‘Christian’ all these years.
[Then I met Jesus.]
I discovered it is through his word that he reveals himself, and the fact that I’d never read my Bible needed to change. I needed to know God, not about him–I needed to hear from his own mouth (John 1:14).
For the first time, I acknowledged the truth that I was a sinner in need of grace; that no earthly pleasure, feeling, comforting thought, friend, food, drink, or experience would ever measure up to the infinite joy offered to us in delighting in Jesus Christ our saving God. (Ps 37:4)
I actually, finally, knew that Jesus, the son sent from the Father, had come as the one substitute, the one payment for the sins of many for all time. (1 John 4:10). He came to live the perfect life I was incapable of living, he died to cancel the debt of sin and take God’s righteous wrath we deserved for severing our obedience to his wise commands (Col 2:13-14), and then he rose from death, purchasing our salvation and setting us free (Rom 6:22). He alone is the way we might experience eternal communion with God our maker.
I have been made new; I have a new heart and am sealed with Christ (2 Cor 5:17). I continually battle to die to my old, selfish, proud inclinations and live into the freedom that Jesus has purchased–to his glory forever.
I did not do any of this; I was dead in sin (Eph 2:1-10).
I have been made a follower of Christ–a true Christian–by the one whose name we bear: Jesus Christ himself.
To him am I forever grateful, and he is deserving of praise forevermore.