Today is the day we commemorate the most significant event in human history. But most of us have probably treated it like a normal Sunday—except we might have done this really weird thing that involved us waking up in time to go to church for the first time in four months. Or, perhaps even a year.
We aren’t Christians.
We believe there is a god—some kind of superior being somewhere out there in the universe—because we realize the world and existence itself makes no sense without a god. We believe there is a morality—some kind of right and wrong for some reason we cannot philosophically explain—because we realize nothing we do matters if not for it. But still, we reject the morality of the Bible. And with it, we reject the only thing that has the capability to rescue us from the amorality of this Godless world. We reject God Himself.
We go to church on Christmas and Easter, but we wonder how anyone could ever possibly want to go to church. We cry out to god (lowercase) in our times of suffering, begging him how he could be so cruel to us, but never have we gone to Him (uppercase) in our times of joy. We say, hey, that Jesus guy was a pretty cool dude, but we dismiss the idea that we need any kind of righteous “God” to save us from our “sin.” We laugh at Mike Pence (“He hears the voice of God? He doesn’t let himself be alone with women who are not his wife? How backward!”), but still, we follow the dogmatic mandates of secularism. We say the Bible is an important little book, but we pick out the parts that make us uncomfortable and instead conform to the idolatrous morality of the world. We call things and people “good” and pretend to teach our children right from wrong, but ultimately, we reject the idea that there is even such a thing. We wonder why the world is so broken, but we point fingers at everyone and everything but ourselves. We call ourselves “Christians,” but even saying the words out loud makes us uncomfortable and squeamish.
This is the kind of Christianity that pervades American and European society: Godless Christianity.
I always called myself a Christian, but I was a Godless Christian. In other words, I was a non-Christian who falsely called herself a Christian. I had owned a Bible since I was thirteen, but it had probably been opened a grand total of three times in six years. I was a non-Christian who rejected my exorbitant need for the saving grace of God and instead embraced a secular humanism that masqueraded as Christianity.
My version of Christianity didn’t require me to examine my own sin, or worse, to stop willingly living in it. My version of Christianity didn’t require me to accept biblical truths that I didn’t like or that ran in contrast with the ways of the world. E.g., my version of Christianity didn’t require me to accept the fact that men and women have different roles with regard to the Church; or that marriage is a religious institution, not a secular one, designed to unite man and woman before God for eternity; or that the systematic murder of the unborn is not a “right” but genocide; or that sexual immorality is one of the driving forces behind human suffering. (Don’t TV shows and movies and kids at school, my own friends, and even I make fun of people who “save themselves” for marriage? How prudish…and cultish even!) My version of Christianity revolved around three things: myself, the world, and last and definitely least, the god who accepted everyone and everything as they were, including me and my sin.
I was a lost soul. I was constantly slipping in and out of depression. I hopelessly searched for meaning in a meaningless universe. I searched for purpose in hollow philosophies and man-made ideologies. I hid my emptiness behind my appearance, too. I dressed like a hipster and listened to angry music because I wanted to people to think I was “different.” I wore my faux uniqueness on my sleeve and posted it on my Instagram, desperately trying to convince the world—and myself—that my life had meaning. But in truth, I wasn’t different; I was nothing more than a mirror image of the entire lost and broken world. There were a billion and one girls exactly like me. And not one of them was in love with the God of the Bible, the Lord and Creator of the universe.
I wasn’t a Christian.
But I did become one.
Perhaps there are a small number of lucky (I should say blessed) followers of Christ who never terribly struggled in their faiths and accepted their Messiah at the ripe age of ten. But most of us—and I would argue all of us—aren’t born Christians; we become Christians. Becoming a Christian is a very clear and distinct moment in your life. It is the moment you are convicted of your sin. Not accused, not condemned. Convicted.
When you are convicted of your sin, you acknowledge the sins that for so long, you refused to acknowledge were even sins: telling white lies, gossiping, cheating on tests, cursing, living recklessly, purposefully drinking a little too much, wishing ill on those you don’t get along with, and even watching certain questionable TV shows and movies. You even begin to examine your motivations for your seemingly good actions. (I examined my motivations for writing this article and prayed that I would not write it selfishly, with resentment or scorn for people I hoped would read it.)
When you are convicted of your sin, you acknowledge your identity in Adam, your fateful participation in the destruction of Eden, and the world. But most importantly, when you are convicted of your sins, you aren’t driven mad by the guilt from them, because you aren’t being accused or condemned; you’re being saved. Your hardened heart like that of Pharaoh’s is being transformed like Moses’s. Your wicked and murderous heart like that of Saul’s is being converted into Paul’s. The cross you deserved to die on, the pain and suffering you deserved to endure, has been lifted off your back. By the extraordinary, loving grace of God, you are becoming a servant of God.
I want to make this very clear: When you become a Christian, everything changes. Becoming a Christian involves God smashing up your entire worldview into a million tiny pieces. It involves everything you thought you believed, things you thought were hateful or silly, to be flipped on their heads. Suddenly, you see the holes in your worldly philosophies. You see the flaws in your version of Christianity. Suddenly, that old you, the one who sinned and said, “Oh, god doesn’t care if I ,” is erased. That old you—that agnostic, pagan, Godless Christian who laughed at stingy, religious zealots for upholding morality—believe in morality. For the first time, you see truth, and you believe in truth. Your sin now torments you. You detest that part of yourself because you know God detests it too. But still, and miraculously, you aren’t consumed by it. Suddenly, you become this new person—this renewed, redeemed, hopeful, loved person. You become one of those Christians you once hated. And you understand why you hated you. You understand why the world rejects you—because it first rejected God.
Christians in comfortable Western countries have forgotten what it means to be followers of Christ. In fact, no longer are we Christians; we are only Christianized. We reap the material benefit of living in a civilization built on the fundamental truth that man is made in the image of God, but we accept the benefit without accepting the underlying truth. We berate the only true Christians among us, the ones who aren’t afraid to be ostracized by our secular culture, but we forget that Christians throughout history and around the globe today are literally crucified for their faith and yet still refuse to denounce it. All it takes for us to denounce it is someone calling us a name. (I should know. I’m guilty of it.) We forget that it takes strength to stand against the tide, and instead of trusting in God to part the sea for us, we willfully let it sweep us away.
I do not write this to accuse you or condemn you; I write this because I am you. Every single one of us was you and is you. Every single one of us is or once was dead in sin. Every single one of us was born into Adam.
On this Good Friday, we remembered the day our darkness killed the Light of the World. But today, on this Easter, we remember the day He overcame the darkness once and for all and reconciled our egregious sins with the perfection that Heaven requires.
I do not write this to hate you; I write this because God, by His amazing, saving grace, has taught me to love you. He has given me the most precious gift in all creation. He has placed in me a burning desire to see you turn to Him, to be delivered out of Adam, be adopted into the family of Israel, and live forever as a child of God.
Nevertheless, I know this article will get under some skin. I know it will make some uncomfortable. I know it will make some mad. But it is no matter to me.
I no longer live for the praise of this world.