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In Name Only

I grew up in a Christian home with two parents who loved God and love each other. I asked Jesus into my heart when I was 3 and asked to be baptized when I was 5 or 6. I attended Christian schools for a few years, then was home-schooled through high-school, back before it was common. I was immersed in everything Christian from as far back as I can remember. This childhood gave me a foundation of broad and deep Bible knowledge.

I am also a people-pleaser. I care about what people think about me: I follow rules, play parts, answer questions the way I think you want them answered.

Put these two things together, growing up in an Bible-saturated environment and caring very much about how others saw me, and you have a recipe for confusion. I believed I was a Christian because I knew the right answers, lived the right life, and had prayed a prayer. I saw a clean exterior and assumed I was fine.

I didn’t see the sin in my heart because I followed the rules… most of the time. I was a clean-on-the-outside rebel-on-the-inside. I had mastered the art of faking exemplary behavior while cultivating an inner spirit that was rebellious and over-confident, insecure and proud, stubborn and willful. I wasn’t above sneaking and hiding and deceiving to get what I wanted.

I had convoluted what people saw and thought of me with what God sees and thinks of me. And I thought that I could work God the same way I faked-out people.

When I found myself outside those external structures within which I was so careful to stay, I wandered. Every time I turned my back on God’s moral will to pursue my own desires, my own way.

The contents of my faith at the time was knowledge of facts about God. I didn’t know know him or his character. This resulted in a deep-seated distrust of him. Because I didn’t know God, I didn’t trust him, and I didn’t submit to him. I trusted in my own strength, intellect, and ability to control things, a god of my own making.

I had created a god that I could cut corners and play games with to get the outcome I wanted. I was cosmic puppet-master in my mind.

But God, in his mercy, didn’t let me remain in that delusion.

….to be continued tomorrow

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