Eyes That See

“I Once Was Blind”

Easy and Emotional?

 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  -Romans 10:9-13

So, two things I didn’t really like about “Without Excuse“:

I think that the way I told the story, it looks as though I was 1) easily converted, and 2) converted based on emotional rather than logical reasons.  I don’t believe that either of those are true.  I will say that emotional reasons factored into my conversion, but without the logical reasons the conversion never would have happened. 

To show the difficulties that were overcome in my conversion, as well as the necessity of logic in the conversion, I think we have to push the rewind button (or fire up the De Lorean) to go back almost 18 years. 

When I was about 6, I remember overhearing my mom as she told somebody that my brother had been “jumping up and down,” he was so eager to go down the aisle and “get saved” when he was my age.  So, I thought that “getting saved” was something that I was supposed to do.  If Jim wanted to “get saved” at my age, I should want to “get saved.”  So, I “got saved.”  I walked the aisle, the preacher came to the house, I answered all the questions right, got dunked, and it was done.  I was “saved.”

Or was I? 

All the way through my high school years, and up until about midway through my freshman year in college, I believed in God, the Bible, and Jesus.  But I mainly believed in those things because my family did and because that is what I had been told for as long as I could remember.  From the outside looking in I like to think that I looked like I had it all together.  I was the “good kid” in church just about every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night.

I lived out what I was taught the best that I could, and always tried to put everybody else’s needs ahead of mine.  But my motivation for always trying to do the “right thing” was that I thought that was what Christians were supposed to do.  Believe what they tell you and live as good as you can, and you’ll end up in heaven instead of hell.

And I thought that Christians weren’t supposed to have any doubts, questions, or sins.  So any time any of those came along, I tucked them away and just pushed forward.  I thought I was being strong that way.  It was strong to just believe, and to just have faith, when doubts and questions came along.  And when I sinned, I asked God for forgiveness and just moved on.  Nobody else in my church looked like they were struggling with doubts, questions, and/or sins.  So I didn’t think I was supposed to be either.  And I isolated everything.  They’ll think I’m not a very good Christian if they know that I’m struggling with this or that, I thought.

So I pushed all the doubts, questions, and sins to the side and isolated them when they came along, and they began to pile up.

And the “other” life started looking really good to me.  People on TV all look so happy, and my non-Christian friends at school look so happy.  People who seek money, or fame, or status, or whatever else instead of Jesus all looked so happy.  And I really wasn’t happy with my Christianity.  I enjoyed the friendships with the youth pastor and the other kids at church.  But my Christianity really lacked passion.  There were sparks here and there, after a revival or church camp every year for example, but for the most part there was a noticeable disconnect between the joyous words that I sang in hymns every Sunday and the Christianity that I was living.  Jesus was good on Sunday, but I’d set Him down on my dresser with my Bible until it was time to pick them up the next Sunday. 

And there are plenty of good people who aren’t Christians.  Surely a loving God couldn’t send those good people to hell, could He?

Then as I thought about all of the non-Christian nations in a World Civ class my freshman year, I thought about how much of an impact where a person is born has on their religious beliefs.  A Muslim in the Middle East can’t be sent to hell just because he was born in the Middle East to Muslim parents, can he?  That would not be a just or a loving God, would it?

But beneath all of these questions was a desperation to not believe what I had been taught my whole life.  I wanted freedom from the burdens of Christianity as I saw it, and I couldn’t have that freedom if I believed that there is a God.  And my Christian beliefs, which were mostly based on the beliefs of members of my family and my church, could not hold against the mountain of doubts, questions, and sins, especially with the beckoning temptation of the happiness that I thought the “other” life would bring.

Fast forward a little over four years later, and thats where “Without Excuse” comes in.  I believe that God put the longing for the closeness with my dad, the longing for a son of my own, and the emotions when I saw father-son relationships in movies into my life so that I would realize that I had forsaken my Father-son relationship with Him.  Just as I longed for my dad and a son of my own, He longed for the relationship with me to be restored. 

And as I thought about having a son, I started to think about the kind of mother that I would want my son to have.  For a number of reasons, I identified the Christian girl as the kind of girl that I wanted to marry and have children with.  I wanted my children to be raised with the Christian virtues that I was raised with, and even though I still believed that Christians were misled, the virtues that I wanted in a wife aligned with Christian virtues.

I think we need to pause here in the story to show that my conversion was neither only emotional nor easy.

At this point I was not converted.  I was perfectly content with the idea of marrying a Christian girl and raising kids in a Christian church, even though I was not a Christian.  I believed wholeheartedly that Christians were misled.  I did believe that there could be a God, but I didn’t think there was any chance that Christians had the correct idea of God.

My experience with Christianity was that it was burdensome and full of lonely failures, and I didn’t think that there was any logical evidence for Christianity.  I didn’t think that I could live up to the demands of Christianity and didn’t see any reason to try.  The first time around I had believed because people around me believed and I trusted them.

Without logical evidence, there is no way that I was coming back to Christianity.  And I wasn’t coming back easily.

I was convinced the Jesus was resurrected three days after being crucified by logical reasons, through conversations with my brother and Lee Strobel’s “The Case for Christ.”  My brother gave me logical reasons to believe from the Bible, and Strobel’s book gave me logical reasons for believing that the Bible is credible.

You can read my logical argument for Christianity in My “Case for Christ”.

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December 7, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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