Wednesday, September 12, 2018

What Was I Like As a Newly Converted Christian? What Changed?

For some reason today my mind has been reflecting on what I was like as a new Christian. I recall being what some might call over zealous, a very starry-eyed new believer! I wouldn’t go anywhere without my bible. I had a scripture verse for just about everything. People would come to me for a scripture (hilarious!) because I always had my bible on hand, reading, studying, praying. That is once I learned or was enlightened through the spirit on just how to understand scripture. In the beginning I had a lot of questions about the scriptures! I remember conversations with my sister about reading scripture and trying to make sense of what I was reading, interpreting. Then one day it all came together and there was no holding me back! I was handing out tracts and talking up strangers at gas stations, restaurants, apartment communities, on any sidewalk! I had the appearance of what I interpreted as a true Christian! But what depth did I really have yet? And looking back I wonder was it heart or head knowledge? Was it the genuine way a Christian should behave? Was I effective in evangelism or was I giving off the stinch of I’m better than you (I sure hope not!). Honestly I don’t know. My heart believed the best and wanted to see others have the same experience, to know Christ. But what had I known just yet? He saved me from hell. He saved me from myself. Yes absolutely. However I felt there was also  something else. Perhaps my zeal was really a relief and gratitude that I had finally been invited to dine at God’s table, no longer excluded, but a sense of belonging, worthiness, love, a sense of value and dignity restored, especially after the brain washing and spiritual dysfunction from the jw’s.

I don’t see myself the same way. Same zeal. No. I guess too much has taken place. There’s some lessons I wish I did not have to learn. Pain that I wish I hadn’t experienced during those lessons. I didn’t know what I was signing up for when I accepted Christ and entered the Christian community. I thought it was as simple as we share the gospel. Love God and one another. Live for Him. You know, “life as a living sacrifice”. Clearly I had no clue what all of that would entail. But really I know that each of those points must be made a priority and evidence of each of those should be seen in the Christian life. It should be that simple. It’s just not. In some ways I wish I was that innocent believer again. I don’t mean that I was an “innocent never have I sinned” kind of believer. I’m speaking of the naïveté that comes from not knowing about certain aspects of the Christian community. Not ever having known the pain and hurt that can come from ministries or the deep awareness of certain Christian politics and Christian cliques, etc. Of course not every believer fits into those categories. However many professed leaders do and perhaps that’s where the issue resides? It has either changed me or I’m just wounded and need time to heal. I’ve not diverted away from Christ. I’m just drained from having to survive amongst other “believers”. I didn’t expect such deep spiritual warfare within the camps of Christian communities. There seem to be more battles within than with those who are nonbelievers. If there’s no inside unity what right do we have as Christians to invite others in and expect there to miraculously be unity and harmony? Pretending can only hold up for so long and eventually those who are invited in see the truth. There is no genuine unity. Newcomers invited into the Christian faith do not know that in some communities they might get eaten alive because new converts are so open and so unsuspecting and trusting of other “believers”. Often times awareness doesn’t come until after the fact. Spiritual abuse and manipulation exists in every denomination whether in pockets or whether it consumes the entire ministry because its leaders established that unhealthiness as their foundation.

From those experiences come lessons never to be forgotten. At least for me, it’s so.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll awake to a once reignited zeal. Maybe someday it’ll return. Maybe this is the real me? Maybe I have more depth now? Uncertain.

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