A New Kind of Christian
Yeah, I said it.
I sit here convicted of the spirit. I have always been a very spiritual person, wanting a closer relationship with the One who made us. When I was little my grandmother went to a Baptist church, so naturally that would be where my walk would lead me right? Well, yeah, I started out there. I learned that God created the Heavens and Earth, the beasts and the birds, and that He made us. I learned that God was a loving God. He is vengeful, yet just. I learned that if we call on His name, He will perform miracles for us. I learned that He will deliver us in our times of need, but also that sometimes calls for us to be delivered where we didn't want to be. I learned that He will help us in everything that we do, if we ask, but that we should give the credit where it is due. Our God will heal us through our faith and keep us safe when needed. He would also strike us down in our hubris, and lift us up in our subjection. All of this I learned early and well, before we got out of the old testament.
I got a little older and I learned about 'wise men and women'. What's that you say? Well, I'll tell you. A wise person, out in the country where I grew up, was someone who could use faith healing. "But the Bible says that we can all do that" was the only thing I could say, "Why do we need to go to Him?" I don't remember ever getting an answer to that one, but I can understand why I didn't. It's a hard thing to have enough faith to attempt to heal another person, much less to do so, consistently. I also didn't know at the time that one of the wise people wasn't christian.
So I grew a little older and a little bit wiser and I was baptized. I still didn't understand why I did it, but it was what I was supposed to do. I did it to fit in, to be like the others. As a matter of fact I had this need so bad I was baptized four times, in four different churches, by four different beliefs. Then I grew to be a 'man'. I joined the Navy and I was gonna see the world. I did. Twice.
It was before I saw the world that I saw what could be, though. In Great Lakes, Illinois, I had a very dear friend of mine whom I will leave nameless for his own sake. (I haven't seen him in well over a decade, and he was, and probably still is a very private person about his beliefs.) I watched this eighteen year old man physically manifest a purple light, throw it at me and make me laugh for twenty minutes. It wasn't that funny, he actually made me laugh. Now, This young man was a Wiccan. I know that sounds funny, a male wiccan, who would have thunk it. Anyway, this flew in the face of everything I knew. Growing up I didn't even know that people still did that, Christian is the only thing I knew in a personal way. There were plenty of those to choose from. Baptist, Methodist, Pentacostal, and Catholics. Everyone I knew could be fit into one of these slots. I knew that there were other religions, Islam and Judaism specifically, but only by reputation. Everyone knew that there was only one way to heaven and that's just all there was to it.
So, to see this person ,who was a dear friend and quite moral, do this blew my mind. How is that possible? I struggled with that for a long time. I became a practicing pagan. No, we did not sacrifice animals or children. No, we didn't worship the devil, we didn't believe in the devil. We worshiped nature, our part in it, and our responsibilities to it. Now I personally believe that we have vastly underdelivered on this as Christians but that is a different hub. My whole thing was, Now here is something I can BELIEVE in. I studied evolution, and even though it really didn't make sense in some areas I went along with it. I always felt that there was something missing. Some deeper level of understanding that I should have but didn't.
I got out of the Navy and worshiped in my own way. I met a girl, and religion was a big deal to her so I swung back the other way, surely I can just pay lip service the way I used to and everything will be okay, right? Wrong. God got to me. It took Him a long time and I fought him every step of the way. Once when I was getting ready to go to sleep, I had a visitation. An angel of the Lord came to me, I saw her in every detail, but I can't tell you a single one besides that she was glowing. She was beautiful, and there was a peace about her that I had never felt before. I was told that I would spread Gods message to the world. This happened three years before I finally had a relationship with my Creator. That's right I got visited by an angel and I still wouldn't believe. So three years go by and I now have a child with the woman that I met. We had some rocky times, mostly because of me and my hard head. We split up, we got back together, then finally one day I went to church with her. She was going with my Mom to a local church, I was staying home and doing wicked deeds three blocks away. I finally decided to go with her and from the moment I stepped inside I was convicted, and yet I still fought. I went for a few weeks after that, and then I was finally moved enough to try. I asked God to forgive my sins, I asked him to come into my life in a personal way and I told him that I would do what he asked of me.
How little I knew myself. Don't get me wrong, at the time, I absolutely meant what I said. I absolutely had a divine experience, I just didn't know the difficulties of submitting.
So to continue the story, more years go by and there are still great parts of the bible that I can't reconcile with. Every time I read them they twist in my soul. I continue to go to church, I tithe, I pray, I am at every fellowship, and I even want all of those things for the right reason. Still I can't get past the parts of the bible that get thumped on so regularly. I read it, I studied it, and I prayed about it but still I can't be convinced in my heart that my friend should be killed. On top of that every one of the wonderful people that I communed with for years, should not be suffered to live. Eventually this grew weary on my soul so I quit going to church. The bible doesn't say you need to for salvation, it's about your walk and your heart. So I stop. I have a family now. Wife and two kids and we were moving to another city and that was as good an excuse as any.
It didn't stop me in my walk, though. If anything, the time apart gave me the distance I needed to see where I should be. Now comes the hard part. I know that people will blow my statements out of proportion, and I will get flamed. I'm okay with that, I'm doing God's will and for sure not my own on this one. Recently God has shown me how obedience on here will help someone else and I'm willing to let him work though me and against my better judgement.
God doesn't care what you are, He cares who you are. I want to be very clear here. He doesn't care if you are black or white, He doesn't care if you are Baptist or Pentecostal, and He doesn't care if you are christian or muslim. He cares about the intention of your heart. He cares if you call out to Him as he has asked us to do. I believe that the faith healing done by the preacher down the street and the witch around the corner, and yes most of a witches work is in healing, gets their authority from the same place. I believe that God wants us to better stewards of the world he has given us and to live up to the task he set before us. I believe that Jesus was on a mission of love, to help us get our hearts where they needed to be, and that we killed him for it. He said "call upon the name of my father". It wasn't until much later in the books that anyone said to call upon Jesus. He didn't claim to come to be the messiah, he came to show us the way. He did show us the way.
He showed us that by faith we can be healed, fed and clothed. He showed us by mercy we can help the weak, pick up the downtrodden, and farther our fellow man. He said I will cast down this temple, and upon it a new one will be built.
I believe that.
The past few weeks I have felt a stirring in my heart to return to the church. I feel the need in my soul to commune, communally with the Father of all. There is a sanctity in the worship around others that can't be made elsewhere. He does require us to tell people about him, he asks us to spread the message. This past Sunday we did return to church. The entire way there I was praying to God. "Please Lord, show me what to do. Take me to the place that you want me to be in, even if it's not where I want to be." We went to a new church, filled with people that didn't know me from Adam, (I know funny right) and we were met at the door. Hi. How are you. Come inside. Seems friendly enough. It was. We were welcomed like I haven't seen before. My children were given food before service started and we made smalltalk with many of the people there. Services started and when I tell you that you could feel the spirit in that place, I mean it. These people were on fire. Two songs in and I am feeling the worship like I never had before, and I didn't know any of the songs, I just read along with the teleprompter and did my best for my God. I prayed there, "Let me get the message you want for me" and this woman walks up to the podium. She tells us that we will all get what we need, that it has been promised to us. Tears came down my face at this. She stops for a second and then looks me straight in my eyes and says, "Brother, God has a plan for you, I can feel him all over you, and he wants you to know he has a plan for you. My heart could have stopped beating at that point, but then she held up her bible.
"These verses came to me and I have to read them, Jeremiah 29:11-13.' For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart."
Talk about a punch in the stomach, right? Well I'm not done yet. Worship continued for a total of about an hour, I say 'about' because I was soooo not timing it. Then comes the preacher. Now I'm nervous, I know stupid right, but what if he starts preaching on tithing (haven't done that in a while) or on sin. But he didn't. He preached on acceptance, on taking the Lord God at His word, and though His works.He preached on accepting the people that come to you whether they agreed with you or not, and on being nicer to the people that do come to church. He admonished his congregation, rightly, for turning a woman out of a seat in the church, because it was reserved. He preached about loving God.
I can stand behind that.
He didn't get tied down in the petty squabbles that most churches seem to these days. He didn't talk about whether you will go to hell for smoking a ciagrette, or for smoking crack. He didn't preach fire and brimstone, although I am quite sure that he believes in it. He preached about loving GOD, and quite honestly that is where we should all be focusing.
If you love God then you don't need a rule to tell you not to steal, you won't. You don't need to be told not to cheat on your spouse or even with someone else's, you just won't. If you are motivated by love, which is the one thing that Jesus did tell us to do by the way, you just can't do wrong things. It's physically painful for me to lie. It actually hurts me in my soul. So I don't do it, and that sucks. There are a lot of times when it comes in handy. "Sorry officer the gas pedal got stuck" instead of " I just lost track of the needle, officer." Cheating on my wife doesn't happen either, not because I can't but because I won't.
Anyway I'll wind down this story and let the flaming begin from both sides of the belief aisle. But I'll stay right here knowing the truth and hoping he helps me share it with someone before I explode.