When I was in middle school, I attended a fairly conservative church in Blandon. We had some ministry folks come to our church for a week to hold a “revival”. I became friends with one of the women singers who helped out with our youth group and one day we went out for chimichangas and I remember thinking how close to God she must be. I would be such a better person if I could just be like her.
After the “revival team” left, they left me convicted and convinced of my “sin”. I listened to non-Christian music.
I struggled with this for a very long time, and eventually made a rule for myself that I couldn’t play any non-Christian music on my personal stereo. This was extremely difficult for me because I always thought Christian music was of a slightly lower grade. These people had me so convinced that non-Christian music was bad that I actually had to decide if it was okay to listen to secular music if I was in someone else’s house.
Guilt can be so deceiving. I had my fair share of guilt-induced incidents among my time at the church. In the same way I felt guilty about listening to secular music, I later also felt guilty because I didn’t get my classmates to say the “prayer of salvation” and because I might miss reading my Bible for a night. None of these things are sins. In fact, the Bible doesn’t mention that any of these instances are sin*.
Churches teach kids that these things are important. In fact, they are the most important things. I realize that I am surrounded by a generation who grew up in the church and learned the same values as myself. They were taught the same ways to live for Jesus. Is this what Jesus was really about? What if instead of these things, churches would have taught us to love each other like Jesus did? What if they would have stressed that instead of all the nit picky rules? I’ll tell you what would have happened.
Not as many people probably would view Christianity like a religion of rules. Not nearly as many people would have “prayed that prayer” and then later forgot about the entire spiritual experience. More kids would have listened to secular music (hmmm maybe this was all a ploy by the Christian music industry lol). And kids would have learned how to love their friends and Jesus’s love would have been demonstrated a million times over. Maybe people would associate Christians with LOVE instead of rules. Maybe Christianity would be getting somewhere…
*The idea behind the “prayer of salvation” is good; church leaders taught me that I should tell my friends about Jesus. I agree, it’s apart of the great commission that we are to baptize and disciple the world. But, reciting a prayer with some key words does not make a person a Christian any more than me walking into McDonalds makes a hamburger.
The statement we so often hear, ‘Make a decision for Christ,’ places an emphasis on something our Lord never trusted. He never asks us to decide for him, but to yield to Him, something very different.
-My Utmost For His Highest