Monday, October 8, 2012

The Early Years

Until the time I was 13, my family attended a United Methodist church.  I don’t really remember much of what was taught, but I know that I was baptized as an infant, and later confirmed in middle school.  I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love God.  I grew up learning about Him, understanding He wanted me to be good and live a moral life. I believed He was near and that He loved me.  I could go to Him for anything, whenever I wanted.  But I don’t remember much importance (if any) being placed on accepting Jesus as my Savior. 

When my family moved from North Carolina to Indiana, we stopped going to church for a while.  But, I met a girl at school and she invited me to her church and I began regularly attending with her.  This church was a lot different than the Methodist church we’d attended in North Carolina.  After attending for several months, I began to better understand the concept of salvation and the necessity of asking Jesus to save me from my sins.  So, at youth camp, the summer I was 15, I “rededicated” my life to the Lord. I realize now I was too prideful to admit I wasn’t a Christian up until that point.  Nevertheless, I was baptized by immersion soon after and remember experiencing an indescribable joy.  I can remember so clearly being in the baptistery wanting everyone in the church to hear the answers to the questions they asked me, so EVERYONE would know that I was a follower of Jesus Christ.

As time went on, however, I lost that joy.  What I remember being taught in youth group was, essentially, legalism: Don’t hang out with non-Christians; Don’t listen to secular music; Don’t drink; Don’t smoke; Don’t have sex before you’re married; Don’t watch Rated-R movies; and the list goes on.  And I kind of get it.  We were out-of-control teenagers and our youth sponsors were just trying to keep us under control.  But while I was a really good girl, I didn’t love Jesus.  I did everything I was supposed to do, and didn’t do the things I wasn’t supposed to.  I followed the rules.

What about you?  Did you grow up loving Jesus?


  1. Good question! I didn't know anything about Jesus until I started going to church around 4th grade. It was years before I learned that Christmas was not about Santa and Easter was not about eggs...maybe that's why I consider myself more of a "purist" now. Meaning I don't like to mix fact and fiction (and I hate seeing truth mingled with non-truth in church). Anyway, I'm grateful for the people at church who accepted me, loved me and showed me Jesus. I accepted Christ as a 6th grader, but it wasn't until just before my 9th grade year that I went forward for baptism. So, I'd say, "no" I didn't really grow up loving Jesus or having any real concept of God as a child. One of my best friends was very legalistic and I still remember all the "rules" she would tell me at church. Everything from what to wear at Easter, you can't wear a cross at Christmas, Lord's supper rules, etc. Of course, of all of my youth friends she is one who is living an "alternative" lifestyle. So, sometimes I wonder if it was all about the rules for her and not the relationship. Anyway, I'm glad I have a relationship with Jesus that's not based on following rules!

    1. We have talked about your purist position before, but more and more I am coming to appreciate and agree with it. I've been reading through the Old Testament this year. The Israelites often followed after false gods, and I can't help but think that at least part of the way they did it was to incorporate those gods into their Jewish faith. I'm beginning to wonder if we don't do the same with Santa and the Bunny.

      As for legalism, the Lord continues to reveal to me just how steeped in legalism I really am; how it penetrates so many of my thoughts, opinions and attitudes. That's not what Christianity is at all, but I'm only beginning to really understand that.