The Gospel Isn't Just for Broken People

4:30 AM

Long story short, a few academic classes on religious experience and Christianity left my faith burned. Scarred. And as with burned tissue, the nerves that gave me feeling and life just up and died. I no longer cared about God or about following Him. After all, my life was actually, for once, not the worst thing in the world. I got great grades. I knew how to regulate my propensity to be gloomy with good sleep, health, and emotional habits. I dated the most amazing person ever. I was learning to enjoy new things and embrace the very best of life. And this earthly life seemed pretty great -- full of interesting people, fun opportunities, and a beautiful physical world.

At the time, it seemed unnecessary -- if not downright interfering -- to believe in God. What could God do for me? I had everything I needed right here on earth. I was satisfied. I barely thought about Him, and I felt no huge guilt or emptiness in my life. In fact, I felt more fulfilled -- I mean, I could do what I wanted without worrying about sanctification or doing the right thing. I could get instant gratification and not wait for God's timing. I could ignore the old, boring Christian discussions on dating, purity, modesty, women, conservatism, whatever.

Those classes opened up the possibility of life without God. Not the possibly of living a life without God when there was a God, but living a life without God if there actually wasn't a God. And I for a time practically lived that way, even if I didn't come right out and say that.

I knew there was a God, so of course He kept pursuing me and reminding me that my spiritual life was dead. Not much guilt. Just occasional thoughts. Enough thought to know I didn't care anymore and didn't want to care.

I told my boyfriend so: "Christianity seems so meaningless to my life. I just don't see any reason to care about it anymore."

He looked at me. "Yes, there is," he said. And the next thing that came out of his mouth surprised me -- not just because he wasn't a Bible-thumping Baptist but because I'd never thought about it: "If you didn't care, you would go to hell."

Christianity had been so me-focused. Me and my problems and how God could solve them. When my problems seemed solved, I felt like I could dismiss Him, like an employer dismisses the maid after the toilet has been cleaned. Why keep a maid around in a clean house? Why keep a God around in a pretty all-together life?

All this talk about "God saving me" and "God's doing so much in my life" rang hollow because I didn't feel like I needed saving from self-hatred or guilt or desperate life disasters.

But Christianity is not me-focused. It's truth-focused. It's God-focused. It doesn't matter if my life seems "together." It doesn't matter if God seems to interfere in my life more than fix it. That does not matter. . .because the truth is there is a God. The truth is I am a sinner. The truth is I need saving -- if not in this life, then definitely in the next.

Christianity is not a self-help fad. It was not designed for me. It is about the truth of the spiritual and the physical world. It is for God's ultimate glory. And praise be to Him -- His glory includes the greatest benefit to mankind and all the love and grace and pride-stomping a girl could wish for.

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3 impressions

  1. I am very surprised, and more than a little disappointed, with your boyfriend's response. You should care about Christianity because if you don't you will go to hell? That's really the argument he chose to make?

    I could think of much better reasons why you as an individual should care about your faith, but it sounds like you have already come up with some yourself. I can totally get behind seeking truth and praising the glory of love, for example.

    And just so you hear both sides from fallible human beings who don't have all the answers: If you stop being a Christian or even just stop caring, you will not go to hell. Hell does not exist.

    Adele

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  2. Adele,

    The point he was trying to make is that there are spiritual and eternal reasons to care -- not just temporary, earthly ones. Obviously he said much more, but that's the line God used to minister to me right where I'm at.

    I've researched hell from multiple angles, and I still believe in it. That's basic Christianity. I am sorry we disagree about this, but I don't find God being a righteous judge as negative as you do. His righteousness and the threat of eternal consequences motivates me to pursue truth and holiness and to embrace the relief of salvation and rest and peace in Christ's atonement.

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  3. Ah, yes, religion classes at secular universities ... definitely not the greatest things for building your faith. :-P My college experience ranges from the subtle daily routine of every class being taught with the assumption that there is no God and He's just a fairytale, to the full-on experience of professors making me stand up in front of an entire lecture hall and tell them why they should believe in God when Christians are such awful people. By God's mercy, I don't think I've ever come as close to the edge as you have; but there have definitely been dark days for my faith, too. I've come to better appreciate the wisdom of the fundamental homeschool teachers who warned us against secular college when we were in high school ... they may have been a little dramatic, but their concern was more valid than I ever realized.

    When faced with attacks like this, I've found that all I can do is hold onto the knowledge that it is God holding me, not the other way around. When I don't know what end is up and whether He is there at all, I choose to continue to believe Him, and cling to His promise to hold me no matter what; and I have always found that, when I have passed through the emotional storm, God always, always comes to comfort me and reassure me that He was there all along and always will be.

    I don't know if this incredibly long comment will be helpful to you at all or not, ha ha ... but I mostly just wanted to let you know that you are by no means alone, and college is a rough time for many Christians. Satan wants to break us now, before we can emerge to face him with knowledge and strengthened faith; and boy, does he work hard. But God has promised that He won't leave us to fight through it alone - He always, always holds us in His heart and fights for us. It's been proven true for me, and I know it's true for you, too! :-)

    I'll keep you in my prayers, Bailey. Thank you as always for your honesty and openness!! You're a very courageous young lady!

    Hugs and blessings,
    Vicki

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