- I didn’t have a fair warning on what I would face as a Christian. When I came to Faith, I was so broken I couldn’t see past my own pain. I didn’t have anyone around me who talked to me about Jesus. My family raised me Jewish, a religion I knew very little about. It was just me and the book, The Purpose Driven Life. That book was the seed God used to plant in my heart. I didn’t know that then, but looking back on my eleven-year journey as a Christian, I can see that now. So, I didn’t engage in discussions about Christianity and what it meant to be a follower of Christ then. There were no heads up on some of the challenges I would face in my new life as a new believer. I dove in with all I was and just took it one day at a time after that.
As the water receded some from my old life, I began to catch my breath long enough to start noticing God’s hand rearranging the pieces of my life. Friends were removed and added, I was able to make certain decisions I wasn’t able to before, and my circumstances dramatically changed. In between all the awesome changes happening, there were some stumbling blocks I tripped on along my path. The more God grew me, the more I started to hear remarks and comments about not only my Faith but the Christian Faith in general. I didn’t know how to process that at first. I was in a way blindsided by the number of people who looked down and was repulsed by the Faith. I’m over here thinking to myself, “Why are so many people this bothered? Coming to Faith was the greatest thing that ever happened to me.” I know this because I knew what it was like to be on my old skin. I didn’t understand it at all.
It took some time to grasp the reasons why being a Christian is so unpopular in the world. But, as my walk grew, the truth shined brighter. God was showing and teaching me the truth in colors I have never seen before. The colors were so bright; it lit up every part of myself I thought I knew.
And so there it was. A clear understanding of the hate arrowed straight into the heart of Christians.
I have many responses to this, but mainly I choose to remain silent through most of it. Not out of weakness or fear, but out of the sheer fact that investing energy into defending my Faith to people whose priority is to attack and deminimize, is nothing more than a waste of time. If I don’t respond in silence, I do my best to respond with humility and kindness. Believe me, this is a work in progress. My blood still boils at many of the ignorant remarks I hear. I have failed several times at this.
One thing that helps me is to try and understand where people are coming from. I do try and see it from their eyes. We all have walked different paths in our lives with many different upbringings, so I needed to appreciate the opposing view. To be honest, I have grown to really understand the way people see Christianity and how it looks from their eyes. One of the most misconstrued perceptions is that Christians come across like they are better than everyone else because we proclaim to know the truth, which means everyone else’s truth is false. Think about how that looks to a non-believer for a second. Being on their side at one time, I too would probably throw a bigotry label on Christianity.
But, that’s just it. We do know the truth.
It doesn’t make us better by any means. It makes us different. We are no different concerning brokenness and sin. We still sin. We still break. We still fall short. But, why is this so hard to understand for many people? After all, we didn’t write the Bible. God did. So, it’s not us they have the issue with. It’s with God. But, that doesn’t make the truth any less than what it is….the truth.
The pain comes from the hammer slamming down on all the personal beliefs people have spent years digesting and living. That does hurt. It would hurt me. My situation was slightly different because I didn’t have a self-created ideology I lived by. All I had was a deep and dulling pain that never seemed to go away no matter how kind I was to people and no matter what good deeds I did. None of it was tangible. I was hungry for truth. I was hungry for freedom from my own pain. I was hungry for God. I didn’t know that hunger came in the form of Christianity. I always believed in God, but back then I didn’t attach Him to any religion. I only yearned for Him to be in my life.
I learned more about God when I noticed how he was drastically changing my life. I have never experienced or seen anything like it before. It took some time to process that God was actually real. Not that I thought He wasn’t, but I just had never seen him move like this before. It made everything about Him real. It was at that point I wanted to know more about Him.
Who is God? How does He want me to live my life? What makes Him happy? What makes Him sad? Deeper and more probing questions started to surface, and the need to have them answered was a priority for my life. That’s when I began to study.
I studied through Bible and group studies, music, prayer, and devotionals. You name it, and I was submerging myself in it. The more I did that, the more God showed and taught me. Some would argue that I was being brainwashed. There was a short time I actually entertained that possibility. But, things would happen in my life that were so unexplainable, that I was forced to dismiss that possibility altogether. I saw more evidence of God being alive and real than evidence I was drinking the Kool-Aid. I came to accept the fact that no matter what people may argue, they couldn’t possibly argue my personal experiences I was having.
Faith in God is a choice. It’s a heart journey. That’s why it is so radical and personal. It makes sense that God is a personal God because He makes it personal for each and every one of us.
But, the really cool truth is God doesn’t force anyone to Love Him or want to know Him. He lets us choose for ourselves. He will always pursue us, sometimes He will bare us to our beams to get us to look up at Him, but He will not make that choice for us. So, in a way, I can understand the disconnect between non-believers and believers. I know the different reflections we are seeing. It used to upset me, but now I feel more compassion than anything else. As much as I want them to take this heart journey and discover for themselves, I know I cannot make that choice for them. That’s not my job. My job is to be different. My job is to shine that little light God gave specifically to me. He gives all of us our own lights when we come to Faith in Him. What people choose to see or do with that is entirely up to them.
My top priority is to serve and be obedient to God, not people. So, the harsh blows of insults that punch Christians on a constant basis is part of the walk. (See 2 Timothy 3:12). It was part of it before any of us even existed. It was the same case 2000 years ago too. This generation or the next will be no different.
But, I have to be different.
I have to learn to be better at holding my tongue. (See James 1:19) I have to do better at walking away. I have to be better at staying kind and gentle, (See Ephesians 4:31-32) when the punches begin to draw blood and break bones. I am learning eleven years later.
As I mentioned before, I didn’t have a heads up. I didn’t have a warning. So, I wanted to come up with one that may help prepare the new Christians as they begin to live. I mean really Live. I wanted to come up with something that would assist them to make sense of their walk, so joyous and beautiful, so transforming, yet so hated by so much of the world. I want them to know that when these truths mix, it can be exhausting on the heart. I want to help them not feel defeated when the fiery arrows start launching at them because they will. Oh, they will. And as a follower of Christ, it is crucial we understand why to stand and walk firmly in our Faith.
Stay tuned for my heads up to new Christians in part two of this post.