I grew up in the church with both my parents in ministry, so believing that I am a sinner and that Jesus died for my sins was never an issue for me. However, my becoming a Christian at a young age was what I have heard referred to as “fire insurance.” My primary reason for doing good and trying to follow Christ was more out of a fear of Hell rather than a desire to know God. As I grew older I felt I saw a lot of hypocrisy in the church, and when I was in high school I stopped going to church pretty much altogether. Throughout high school and college I never outright denied God. If someone asked, I would say I was a Christian; but I didn’t broadcast it. I knew what a horrible sinner I was and I never wanted to be the cause of someone saying, “What a hypocrite! Look how messed up she is when she claims to be a Christian! If that is what Christianity looks like, I don’t want any part of it!” It took several years of that before I came to terms with the fact that it didn’t matter what anyone at any church did or didn’t do. Jesus was the one who died for my sins, not them; Jesus is the one I could count on to be perfect and never fail me, not them.
It still wasn’t until after my son was born and I saw how important it was to me that he not go to Hell that I realized I needed to get my relationship with God on the right track to be a good example for my family. We started going to church regularly, and then joined a small group a few years later, and a few years after that I became a member and started volunteering in the children’s church. During that time, my focus changed from just trying to make sure my family didn’t go to hell to praying that we would all grow to seek God and desire to be used for His kingdom. I am learning what it is to have an actual relationship with God.
It never occurred to me to be baptized again until we were speaking with a pastor about baptism for my husband. I was baptised as a little girl, but only because that was what I was supposed to do: Say the prayer-- check; get baptized-- check; don’t go to Hell-- check. It wasn’t the outward expression of an internal change like it was supposed to be. I think it’s kind of obvious now that I am a Christian. I try not to worry so much about how messed up I am and hope people will see how amazing God is that He still loves this mess and will honor me for trying to be less messy! But I took small steps and kind of waded into where I am now, so I didn’t realize that, since experiencing that change of heart and having the desire now to really follow God, I had never made the public statement that I am living my life now for God’s kingdom.
Making such a public statement still scares me. I am far from perfect and still have a LONG way to go in this sanctification process! Deep down, I still worry that somewhere down the line one of my mistakes will lead someone astray. But I know that this is what God has called me to do, and if I want to grow in faith and someday see all of my family in Heaven with me, I must be obedient.