I was reading this morning an account from a friend’s friend who has left the church after 20 years of serving in ministry and is near leaving his Christian faith. He spoke sincerely and vulnerably regarding the process of his deconversion from Chaplain to agnostic. His reasons for change are: 1) inside knowledge of the awful condition of [his] local church, 2) no clear examples in his life of pure, supernatural moves of God that couldn’t in some way be explained in humanist terms–that is, nothing separating what a Christian can do from what the non-Christian can do, 3) too many clear examples of wickedness being done in the name of Christ, and 4) the hypocrisy and fear-based/brain-washed commitment of the Christians around him. I really enjoyed his perspective so I hope I am relaying this accurately.
It’s my opinion that the large majority of Christians (in the States) are not practicing Christianity. I have seen first hand the sort of situation this man describes: the structure of religion and the academic declarations of theology (as good as this can be) without the supernatural power of a living and loving God (not to mention the rest of it..). But didn’t Paul the Apostle say, “my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit in power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (1 Cor 2:4-5)? And isn’t the New Testament full of supernatural accounts done by the Spirit through Jesus’ followers?! God has not changed (Mal 3:6, Heb 13:8). The purpose of the believer on the earth hasn’t changed–we are still strengthening the ‘bride’ and collecting the harvest until the day of our Lord’s return. Jesus is alive, and so is His Spirit!
When Jesus died on the cross, He paid the sacrifice of our sins once and for all. Every hurt, every pain, every struggle; everything that’s been done to you, and everything you’ve done that has brought destruction to yourself or someone else–it died with Jesus on the cross. He was resurrected, and the sin wasn’t; the bondage of sin has been taken care of. To become a Christian means to surrender to God and accept the free gift of perfect freedom, love, joy, peace, and so forth. He already bought the gift of freedom–for the whole world. It’s an acceptance of that gift to the point of full re-birth. People don’t go to Hell because they don’t believe in God, but because they’ve rejected Him. Everyone at some point has the choice to accept or reject Him; it’s a serious decision. When we choose Him we get to walk out of the bondage and straight into the Kingdom. Don’t you know, the Kingdom is at hand!?! And in the Kingdom are miracles galore! We are new creations, equipped with supernatural gifts. We do heal the sick and cast out demons and prophesy and do miracles, just as His first disciples did. We love God to such an extent that we can’t help show His love in demonstrations to everyone we meet. Heaven is a party and it starts now! And that’s GOOD NEWS! When Jesus returns to be King the party is only going to get bigger! YAY!!
There was a moment in my life (quite a ways after my decision to be saved, repentance, and water baptism) where God in His supernatural power and grace, immersed me with His Spirit and, in a moment, re-birthed me into perfect freedom. None of my old self was there. I became completely new. My thoughts changed, my moods changed, I stopped taking medication for my various psychological disorders because they were gone, I didn’t have to pretend to be happy because I really truly was (to an even greater extent today!), even many of my interests changed! I cannot describe the peace that’s in my spirit. Fear is gone!
If you haven’t experienced this level of joy, and peace–whether you’ve been a Christian for years or if you identify with a different religion all together–I want to say a short prayer for you:
May you encounter the very presence and being of God Himself through Jesus Christ the Lord, the people who live in His Kingdom, and the mighty restoration of the grace of His salvation!