Long ago in a galaxy far, far away…oh wait, that is a different story.
In 1981 I became what is known as a “born again Christian”. Stepping through that door of faith has taken me on a journey that I could never have imagined. I have had many great experiences and met some amazing people along the way and I have gone through some horrific times and been deeply hurt by some who claim to “know” Jesus more times than I would like to think about. And it was in those painful moments that I have considered whether or not this thing called “Christianity” is real.
So it is not surprising that many of my friends who do not share the same spiritual DNA question my sanity for staying within the Evangelical church. At times I question it myself.
I came into “the faith” recognizing my utter inability to earn heaven and fear of being consumed but never consumed by the sulfuric flames of hell and then I spent the next 15 years of my Evangelical faith cowering before God and others for not measuring up to the church standard of a good Christian. Jesus was there but only to take my sins away…I needed to do the rest. At least that is what I was being taught. So to measure up I became a patriotic flag waving, hater of all things “secular” Bible banger. I protested and picketed and wrote letters. I condemned and belittled those that did not know the “Truth”, the spiritually ignorant. I could write more about my early years, but I think that you get the picture.
But within me, in my heart and soul I was dying. I knew how bad I was, all the secret “sins” and weaknesses, the fact that I was just as bad as I was before I became a Christian and that I would never be accepted by God or others. I couldn’t do it anymore.
But then God broke through…
He showed me through a friend that because of Jesus, His love was unconditional and that, if I may borrow a line from my mentor Steve Brown,” He is not mad at me“…ever again. I was and will always be a child of the Creator and I do not have to do anything. I was finally recognized that I was free, and accepted and loved as is, forever.
But there is more…
Because I do not have to obsess about whether or not I an getting this Christian thing right (although I am finding that He is changing me a little each day) I can use my time reaching out to others and learn to genuinely love them unconditionally by deeds and when needed, words. I am being used by the Holy Spirit to expand God’s Kingdom and thus expose people to the amazing Gospel of Jesus, the Good News that because of His sacrifice we can all have access to forgiveness, and love, complete acceptance and unmerited grace from God that never, ever ends. That is something that nothing in the world can offer.
It is the message of Evngelicaliam… but sadly in many quarters of the church, this message has been lost. So people in the church and outside the church need to hear it anew.
It is all about Jesus, not about political affiliation, or social or cultural convictions, or denomination or Bible version, or anything else. It is about Jesus. To add anything to the purity of the message degrades the Good News of God and turns it into something not of God at all.
Evangelicalism is in need of revival. People in the church need to hear of the freedom they can have in Jesus…so I stay along with many others hoping to bring the church back from the sands of personal preference to the rock and foundation of Jesus.
I stay also because I believe the message that, it is only through the unconditional love of God in Jesus, that all of us will finally find what we seek.
4 thoughts on “Why I Am Still An “Evangelical””
Mark, I often find too, that some folk get so hung-up about irrelevant things that do not really matter – (pews or not having pews, what you wear to Church, modern music or old, organ or piano – etc) and there are many more!
You are right, the most important thing is Jesus- and knowing His love – for all, whoever, whatever, we are, – Christian or non-Christian.
Love conquers all and, in the end, that is all that really matters.
Thanks – look forward to your blogs>
Thank you for always reminding me of the unconditional love of the creator. we are all her children and are all walking expressions of love. we need to seek that unconditional love within ourselves and bestow it on others. that is what it is all about. i am grateful that you are no longer someone who shuts things out or judges them for fear of the wrath of a vengeful God. I am grateful that you can use your time and energy on much more powerful things like spreading the message of the truth of love!!!
Wow. Beautifully written and impactful. You are so right. It is all about Jesus and His love … everything else can be and is manipulated by Satan and the world.
Reading your blog was to me like looking in a mirror. I am exactly in the same spot! I grew up in church, went to Bible college, did the youth pastor thing for awhile…but I feel like I truly found my relationship with God a few years ago when I realized that God wasn’t a bifurcated, homicidal Zeus figure that was looking for any opportunity to zap me dead if it wasn’t for Jesus holding him back.
I too have struggled with staying within the evangelical community. I’m convinced, at least for now, that my mission is here in its ranks to spread the good news that is so much bigger than “turn or burn”. This gets hard since I work at an evangelical Bible college and my entire family is very fundamental. It’s comforting and inspiring to hear people like yourself with similar stories.
What I don’t understand is the argument that says if you preach too much love and grace then people don’t take their faith seriously. But in my experience it’s the opposite! God’s love loves us into purity and discipleship! I’ve never wanted so much in my life to be holy and wholly committal to Jesus. I’ve never been more of a light and a witness. I’ve never been more discontent with my sins – not out of fear, but out of love for a God that has shown me a torrent of intense and even scandalous love and grace.
Sorry for being long winded. I’m a writer as well and your blog reads a lot like mine. I look forward to more of your blogs. Be blessed, my friend!