BELIEVING AND GROWING WITHIN YOUR FAITH
“Go back to the hour you first believed”
My campus pastor’s words fell heavily as we sat in silence, a room full of 4,000 people digging through old memories of singing “Jesus Loves Me” in vacation Bible school and being told that God was “knocking on the door to our heart.” But some needed only to go back a year, a month, or a week. Their newfound discovery of their love of God was still fresh in their minds and spirits. They still celebrated every day they were able to learn all of these truths that seemed too good to be true, but those of us who had known about God for ages seemed to have lost that wonder. When you grew up in a Christian house, certain things became second nature. Sundays you have to go to church, Wednesdays you have to go to youth groups, summers you have to go on mission trips, and in between you have to get texts with Bible scriptures stating how much you are loved. These aren’t things that are remarkable for you; they are a routine. Every week for every year, this is what you do. It’s just the Christian thing to do. In fact, it became so routine that I began to beg for it not to happen. It became a chore to do this over and over again.
I’m certainly not claiming that all believers who grew up in the Church have lost the zeal for Christ. Look at Sadie Robertson or Emma Mae Jenkins – they wake up every day and fall in love with God all over again – but there is something to be said about that silent room of believers who had to root through their memories in order to find the joy from our newfound faith that had become old. I think we can take it for granted. If you have grown up your entire life knowing that you would have eternal life with the Savior and all your sins would be forgiven, you begin to rely on that truth. I mean, who really wants to read the rules when, no matter what, you’re going to heaven?
But new believers don’t see it that way.
Many new believers, Christians, or those from other religions. are like people who found glasses that let them see the world. Everything is different for them and they are not able to stop looking and loving this world through these glasses. I think that’s what it’s like for new believers. Everything is different and new. They want to learn all they can, they want to experience all they can, they want to see all they can. But for us? We’ve seen it all.
Imagine walking around with someone who had just gotten their sight back, or maybe are able to see for the first time in their lives. Everything would be amazing and beautiful. But imagine how confused they would be when you gave your opinion. “Oh, that car? Yeah, it needs to be washed.” “Those clothes? Old and worn out.” “That front yard? Please, get a lawnmower”. Believers have seen all their lives and we don’t really remember the true joy of “seeing” for the first time.
But when you didn’t grow up in this life, imagine how amazing that would be. You get to go to church and learn about all of these aspects of a religion you are newly in love with. You get to meet with a group of people your age and just talk about life and your struggles and be loved. You get to help someone in a different state where you otherwise would have never gone.
When did we switch from that?
I think it’s when we changed our get to’s with have to’s. It’s when we began to see it as a trick instead of a treat. It’s when we’ve had it for so long that it’s no longer something we view as a privilege.
Now, how about today?
I don’t know about your churches, but I haven’t stepped foot in a chapel for over two months. I know that as soon as we do, the mundane and routine will have been so broken up and we will be so grateful to worship again that our once to’s of the Christian duties will transform into get to’s. Church and gatherings will no longer just be another duty. It’s a privilege.
Again, this isn’t to say that all believers who grew up in the church have lost their faith or are no longer entranced by God, but I do see us, myself very much included, as not reversing this faith and relationship with God as passionately as we once did. The time away from the church and spent in isolation needs to be a time when believers can grow with each other and in their individual faith. This lockdown and distance from places of worship needs to be a wake-up call for believers, just as my pastor said, we need to often go back to the hour we first believed and sit with that moment, filling ourselves once again with that wonder and joy that comes from finally seeing the world as it is: a wonderful act of creation and worship for our God.
Follow On Instagram @markey_battle