Saturday, May 30, 2009

My 25 years as a Christian

I became a Christian 25 years ago this month. I had not, at that point, given much thought to my fellow human being. Being 19 years old and self-absorbed, I was more concerned with my own welfare than that of anyone else.

My conversion quickly changed my view of humanity. I feared that most of those I loved, not to mention those I didn’t even know, were bound for eternal damnation, and so there was an urgency in my soul to do whatever necessary to convince them of their need for Christ’s salvation.

But in the past few years I’ve become a misanthrope. I don’t know why this is. Perhaps it’s because I’ve let my spiritual life slip. My early days of Christianity were spent in hours a day of prayer and Bible reading. Most days now pass with little thought to either.

What’s turned me so cold? I can’t blame anyone but myself, but outside influences have their effect. Right after my conversion I gave up all secular pursuits except for college – and before I’d had time to graduate I gave that up too.

A few years in I started listening to classic rock on the radio and watching TV Land, but still shunned any current entertainment. By the ‘90s I was watching "Seinfeld" and listening to Kurt Cobain. Still, I read my Bible and prayed daily. I even entered Bible college.

But Bible college may have begun my undoing. It wasn’t that they were teaching me to abandon my faith, but with working a full-time job and studying for class and seeking a wife (I was in my 30s), I had little time to dedicate to my former Scripture reading and prayer. I determined I’d take it back up between semesters. But I didn’t.

Now, years past Bible college, I still don’t. I’m still at church every Sunday, but my passion lacks. In some churches I see accommodation. I have no problem with trying to reach people through new methods, but one of those methods shouldn’t be leaving out any part of the message that offends. Other churches are either not accommodating enough or they cling to ideas that drive people away. I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s no home for me.

I don’t wish to wallow among the ungodly either. They’ve become more and more brazen in their spitting in the face of the holy.

I actually attend two churches currently: The one I grew up in, which is formal, but doesn’t compromise the gospel, and one which I’ve found that has a contemporary service, but still embraces tradition. I like both these churches, so please don’t get the idea from two paragraphs up that I don’t like them. I was speaking generally, and I’m sure there are many churches I’d feel comfortable in. I wrote those words several days before I penned this paragraph, and was in certain mood then that I’m not in today. Still, I’d like the words to stand unedited.

I’m trying to work God back into my life, but I’m doing so amid trying to work physical exercise back into my life and trying to become a better (newlywed) husband, better son, better pet owner, etc. And I’m trying to figure out ways to make extra money in a down economy – especially considering that I work in the newspaper business – a shrinking industry.

So pray for me if you are of the mind. Encourage me if you can. And I’ll do my best to do the same for you.

My quarter-century of walking with Christ has had its ups and downs, but overall it is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I entered this new life a few months before turning 20 assuming I had three choices: suicide, insanity or Christian conversion. Assuming I was teetering on the edge of the first two I reasoned I could try giving myself to God first. If that didn’t work out I could try insanity, and if that didn’t work, try death. After all, if death were a mistake I couldn’t undo it. Maybe I could come back from insanity, but maybe not. I could always give up Jesus if he didn’t cure my problems.

I’m happy to say that after all these years he still does. Even when I feel I’ve failed him.