The past few days have been really intense spiritually for me. I’ve done a lot of reflecting on my own personal testimony. It started last week when I reviewed the syllabus for an evangelism course I’m taking and noticed that I’ll have to write a paper on my salvation testimony. On Friday night, I went to one of those “Turn or burn” shindigs where they force you to deal with the reality of hell and the frailty of human life. Saturday was spent in silent contemplation. Sunday, I had the privilege of watching one of my very favorite six-year-old’s get baptized. To be entirely transparent with you, today I’ve been wrestling with the concept of salvation.
For me, I confessed my faith in Jesus Christ as a little girl. I don’t remember how old I was, but I was lying in bed and I clearly remember that moment in time praying to Jesus letting Him know that I believed He was who He claimed to be. He left heaven, came to earth and lived a perfect life, died on the cross for my sins, rose again three days later, and now He’s in heaven preparing a place for me. Whenever people are like, “June 9th, 2001. That’s the day I was born again!” It’s always really bothered me. Like, significantly bothered me. Not because they remember the date of their salvation, but because I don’t remember mine. It’s always made me feel like mine is less official. Especially when their experience involves being at church camp or VBS and walking down an isle. The other thing is, because I was saved as a child, I didn’t have this long list of horrible sins stacked up a mile high that I needed to repent and turn from. Was I a sinner? Absolutely. We’re all born into sin. But because I was born and raised in a Christian home, I wasn’t particularly living a life full of sin that I needed to turn away from. There was no “180 moment”.
I was baptized when I was 12. Again, not exactly a “180 moment”. Just a public confession that I believe Jesus Christ left heaven, came to earth in the form of a human and lived a perfect life, took my place on the cross and carried the weight of my sins, died but didn’t stay dead, instead, rose again three days later and now He’s in heaven preparing a place for me. I was baptized to show that Jesus is Lord in my life, He calls the shots. Here’s the thing; I sinned after baptism. I have fallen so epically short of the glory of God. In fact, there have been moments where I’ve fallen flat on my face with shame over things that I’ve done. There were times when I took control over my own life. There have been times where I knew something was sin but I chose to do it anyway. Sometimes repeatedly. But how is it possible for a saved person to live that way? It’s not. That’s why I ended up flat on my face. I’m saved, not perfect. That makes me a human who makes mistakes but now posses the ability to receive grace.
On the other side of the spectrum, I’ve grown immensely since that day. I’ve made leaps and bounds towards Christ, and I am not the same person I was then. In fact, the depth of how disgusting I am as a sinner and the sacrificial love of Christ are more apparent to me now than ever. Does that mean that I wasn’t ready for baptism or that I didn’t understand what I was doing? Not at all. When you get married, your love for your spouse doesn’t hit it’s peak on your wedding day. It develops and deepens over the course of a lifetime. You don’t wait until you’ve perfected yourself and your qualifications for marriage in order to get married. If you did, no one would ever get married. Perfection in this world only exists in the person of Christ.
To reach my main point here, I’ve been beating myself up and driving myself insane over whether or not my faith in Christ was good enough. Whether or not it was legit. And the conclusion I’ve come to is this: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
It’s not about my faith being “good enough”, if that makes any sense. It’s about the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. He did it, all I have to do is believe. That’s it. There’s a quote by Angie Smith that really summarizes these past few days:
“We rely way too much on our feelings to indicate our faith. Doubt is a feeling, faith is a choice.”
I’ve made the choice to believe in Christ. My favorite Bible verse for the past few years has been Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we cannot see.” Nobody hopes for something they have. That doesn’t make sense, because you already have it. Here we are on planet earth hoping for the day that we meet Christ face-to-face. That’s what faith is. It’s a choice to believe in something you can’t see. As a result of that belief, you begin a process. A journey. And until that day comes, we’ll persevere in our faith and we’ll continue to grow, even in the seasons of hardship. In the meantime, we’ll work out our salvation with fear and trembling. And even in the midst of being tempted to doubt, we’ll know in our heart of hearts that just like everything else in this life, it all points back to the cross.
“Jesus called a little child to him and stood the child before his followers. Then he said, ‘I tell you the truth, you must change and become like little children. Otherwise, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.'” Matthew 18:2-3
“but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me. Don’t stop them, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people who are just like these children.'” Matthew 19:14