I grew up in the church. From childhood, I could say all the right things and I believed in Jesus. I was a good person who always lived by the rules and thought she was saved but could not remember any kind of a salvation experience. I had a reawakening of sorts when I was seventeen but looking back, that wasn’t really a defining moment in my life. But last summer is when I chose to give my life to Christ, because in attending our new church I wondered for the first time if I was or wasn’t saved. It was a hard time for me, a bad couple of weeks, but it forced me to make a choice as an adult, and it was a choice that wasn’t made lightly and came from my faith and willingness to give everything over to God – my hopes, my dreams, my future, my wants, and my willingness to be obedient.
Thinking I might not be saved forced me to evaluate whether or not I wanted to be a Christian. I looked at both sides. I weighed the evidence. I thought about the possibility that Christianity is a myth, a farce, that there is nothing outside death and that I could live however I wanted to, without fear of repercussions. But I came back to it, and… in the months since, I’m nowhere near the same person that I was. I have changed so much that many of my friends would not recognize me. I have grown up dramatically and the worldly things that once dominated my life no longer hold the same appeal.
After he got saved, my dad changed dramatically. It was such a huge shift in his life that my mom, who had gone to church her entire life and also “grown up in the faith,” realized that something was missing in her life, and she turned her life over to Jesus as well. I always wondered why I hadn’t had a transforming experience, but chalked it up to “well, I grew up Churched, so I never did get to be really ‘bad.’” But here is the thing: even Churched Christians are bad. None of us are good enough to earn our salvation, or to be proud of what nice people we are, because we’re not. We sin, we lust, we covet, we are the same deplorable, sinful human beings that the rest of the world is only we have a blanket of forgiveness through the blood of Christ.
I discovered that as a human being, I stink. I’m not a nice person. I don’t have good thoughts. I struggle constantly with sin and I have done bad things, thought about doing bad things, and made excuses for my behavior. Getting saved did not make me perfect. It just changed a lot of things, softened some of my struggles, and forced me into alignment with God. It asked me to give up some things, to face how superficial and worldly I can be, and really brought me to my knees. My family has seen the kind of transformation in me that my dad went through, only of a different kind, because we are not the same person. Jesus never offers us the same life once He enters into it; he offers us a new life.
If you grew up in the Church but have not changed for the better in the last five or ten years, you may want to evaluate whether or not you are saved. Salvation always brings about transformation, and if you are arrogant enough to believe that there is nothing that needs “worked on” in your life, you’re wrong. Secular humanism wants us to believe that everyone is basically good, and a nice person is a good person, but by God’s standards, a nice and good person is still a depraved sinner in comparison to His Son. Salvation has nothing to do with having grown up reciting Bible verses, or paying lip service to the fact that “Jesus died for my sins.” It literally and utterly changes everything about you over time, and if you are not changing and constantly becoming more like Him, through no act of your own except your faith, maybe you were in the same place I was: a “nice person” but not really a follower of Christ.
I could say all the right things. I could write all the right things. But I wasn’t saved.