AHA! Look! I am actually going to follow through with this! I bet you thought I’d forget, or put it off for so long that it became embarrassing, or chicken out.
But I didn’t do any of those things! I HAVE PERSEVERED!
If you’re thoroughly confused and maybe a little sketched out right now, allow me to summarize what is happening: I asked the Grasshoppers (my lovely readers) if they wanted to know about my faith and why I believe what I believe. They said yes, and they told me specifically what they were interested in.
SO. Here we are. This is happening.
I’ve divided the post into sections because, for realz, it is LONG, and basically you will need some sort of canteen and maybe a steroid/adrenaline injection to get through the whole thing, so feel free to read the parts you want to read and to skip the parts you want to skip.
Also, please keep this in mind: everything in this blog post is my own personal experience, opinion, and insight. If you disagree with me, we’re cool. I promise I don’t judge you or think I’m better than you in any way. Mmkay?
Alrighty. Here we go.
* * *
What I Believe
So, basically, I’m a reformed Christian. “Reformed” means I claim Calvinist theology. Churches that associate themselves with this particular brand of theology are typically called PCA churches (Presbyterian Church in America).
I align myself with Calvinism/the reformed faith because, to me, it clings the closest to what scripture actually says without putting words in God’s mouth or taking things out of context.
* * *
How I Became A Christian
I grew up going to church. I also grew up HATING going to church because A) it was booooring, B) it was early (8:00 am), and C) we had to get dressed up. I do not enjoy any of these things. In fact, this is exactly what led me to hate wearing dresses even to this day.
I also grew up going to a Christian school. It’s a great place–actually, it’s where I teach now. So I didn’t mind that at all, but somehow, in spite of the MONSOON of biblical knowledge I was given from my first day on, I did not understand what Christianity actually WAS until 7th grade.
See, to me, Christianity meant living in fear. My fear was mostly related to hell, because, seriously? Who wants to think they’re going there after they die?
The key to staying out of hell, from what I could decipher, was to “ask Jesus into my heart.” Well, this really didn’t make any sense, but I was told that I “asked Jesus into my heart” sometime around the age of two, so I figured I was safe.
But I asked him into my heart every night just to be sure.
Let me clarify, just so you’ll understand the depth of my own personal Crazyville at this point in my life: I asked him into my heart every night for TEN YEARS just to be sure I was safe. Or maybe eight years. I’m not really secure in my numbers on that one. The point is, every night before I fell asleep, I would pray, “Jesus, please come into my heart so I won’t go to hell. Amen.”
If you’re thinking, “That sounds like maybe it was a little bit awful,” well, YES. I never felt certain of my fate after death. I was pretty sure something came after this life, though, and I needed to figure out what I was doing wrong.
I learned the truth in 7th grade from a friend of mine. See, I’d been under the impression that I needed to be a very good person in order to be “saved.” That I needed to go to church (even if I slept through the whole service), read my Bible, pray every single day, and BY ALL MEANS, never, ever, EVER touch alcohol or tobacco because good Christian girls didn’t associate with those things.
(For the record, if you can show me where in the Bible it says that alcohol is evil, I will pay you $20. See also: dancing.)
(I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE THINKING, CHURCHGOERS. And yes, the Bible talks about the ABUSE of alcohol being wrong. But I think most of us can probably agree that alcohol abuse is maybe a bad idea, yes? And if alcohol in and of itself were wrong, I’m pretty sure Jesus wouldn’t have miraculously made more of it at that wedding.)
Anyway. Being a “good girl,” going to church, reading the Bible, well…that’s not AT ALL what it means to be a Christian.
What it means (my friend told me) is that you simply can’t ever be good enough to go to heaven.
Which is a pretty freakout-worthy concept, until you hear the rest of it: God was good enough, and he took your place.
Christianity had nothing to do with “being a good person so you’ll stay out of hell.” Heck, it didn’t even have anything to do with “asking Jesus into your heart” (what does that even MEAN?).
Instead, it was about understanding that even if you do your very best to be perfect, you will always mess up. You will always be occasionally unloving to that person who’s hard to love. You will always forget to do something important for someone who’s counting on it. You will always struggle with greed, deceitfulness, lust, jealousy, and hate.
In short, you will never be perfect, and heaven demands perfection.
The good news, my friend told me, is that God–who is perfect in every way–took your place in your sinfulness when he was crucified. His death erased your screw-ups–past, present, and future. And now, if you turn to him for your salvation, he will see you as perfect.
He sees you as perfect.
And because of that, you have the opportunity to spend eternity in heaven. You also get to live your life with the knowledge that you are never, ever alone. That someone else understands The Big Picture and that, if you ask for guidance and wisdom, you will get it.
Guessing game = OVER.
So, on that day, I truly committed to following Christ, and this time I finally understood what I was doing.
* * *
Why I Believe In God
Here’s the thing: people are complex organisms. I just really have a hard time believing that the human brain / nervous system / reproductive system / you name it could be the result of an accident. I’m not saying the big bang is impossible; I’m just saying I have a hard time believing in a big bang that wasn’t controlled by an intelligent being.
See also: molecular biology, chemistry, basically any science. I just don’t see how these things can be accidents.
Of course, I’m always open to the possibility that I don’t really understand the universe’s origins at all, and that even my interpretation of what the Bible says about it could be DEAD WRONG.
In addition, I’m not the type of person who would normally buy into religion. I’m extremely skeptical of “religiosity”; I don’t like most televangelists; I’m disgusted by the corruption that happens in some churches “in the name of God.” So the fact that I feel so deeply that Christianity is for real leads me to believe that God is working in my soul; that he cares about me and wants me to understand who he is.
Also–and I don’t really know how to say this without sounding a little tooley, but–I’m not exactly dumb. I think things through. I don’t just “jump on a bandwagon” without knowing WHY. So please understand that if I believe in something, it’s because it makes sense to me–it’s not because everyone I know believes in it (which is certainly not the case) or because I’ve somehow been brainwashed.
And finally, as far as I know, Christianity is the only faith in which the god (Christ) is on record as sacrificing himself for his people. That just really speaks to my soul in a big way, you know?
* * *
Christianity In Modern Society
It’s not always easy to tell people you’re a Christian these days. I can’t tell you how many hateful comments I’ve been on the receiving end of about it.
(Incidentally, there are people on Twitter who apparently spend their time searching for Christians for the express purpose of verbally abusing them. So that’s fun.)
Anyway, yes, I DO believe my faith is relevant in today’s culture. But I also believe a whoooooole lotta people who call themselves Christians are warping the truth. They are skewing the message of the gospel in favor of their own opinions.
Now, I’m NOT going to get into any heavy topics here, but I will say this, and I want you to hear me loud and clear:
There is nothing Christian about hate.
There is nothing biblical about slander.
There is nothing godly about ignorance.
In fact, if you read the Bible, you will see that Jesus spent the most time with the people nobody else really cared for. Tax collecters (hated), prostitutes (reviled), adulterers, murderers, the list goes on and on.
For example, let’s take a look at the occupations of some of his disciples. These are the twelve apostles. You know, the saints with all the churches named after them. The people Jesus spent ALL his time with. Now, I couldn’t find all their occupations, but these are the ones I could find.
Andrew, John, Peter, and James–fishermen (lower-class occupation)
Matthew–tax collector (hated and disrespected)
Simon–member of revolutionary Jewish Zealots (is anything revolutionary ever understood?)
Paul–before he was an apostle, he persecuted the church HEAVILY. As in, he murdered a lot of Christians. Yes. This is Saint Paul. The one with all the cathedrals named after him.
Funnily enough, Jesus was not at all inclined to hang out with the Pharisees, i.e. the men of the church who proclaimed themselves to be “righteous.”
So I guess what I’m saying here is that I wish more believers were like that. Actually, I wish I were more like that, more often.
* * *
1. Being in the church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than being in a garage makes you a car. Not everyone who does something “in the name of God” has a relationship with God.
2. Christians mess up just like everybody else. This is, quite simply, because we are human. We’re not God, we just follow him.
3. Being a Christian doesn’t exempt you from having JUNK in your life. And no, I’m not talking about Fergie-Junk-In-Your-Trunk kind of junk. I’m talking about nasty, difficult, ugly situations. For crying out loud, I’ve had some Grade-A Tragedies in my life. This isn’t heaven; it’s not supposed to be perfect or easy all the time. The difference for me is that I believe perfection is coming.
* * *
Final Final Thoughts
Y’all, there is SOOOO much more I could have said, but for the sake of your eyes, which are probably already bleeding, I’m going to stop here.
I don’t give out my email address anymore, and I’m closing comments on this post for a multitude of reasons, but if you’d like to contact me about this, feel free to do so by messaging me on Facebook.
I just want to say again that my intention here was not to push my faith on anyone or to make anyone feel weird in ANY way. It was simply to answer some questions, and to discuss some things I believe. Feel free to take it or leave it; I won’t be offended if you leave it.
Thanks, lovelies, and happy mid-week!