If you know my testimony (click here to read it), you know that I was raised in a Christian home, which means that I heard about God all the time. I had sermons preached to me every Sunday. I heard God’s name every once in a while from my parents. I participated in family devotions. But I never had any desire for God. I never truly knew Him.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” – Jesus (John 10:27-28)
Disgust for the Shepherd
Jesus knew what He was talking about. Now that I am saved, I see so clearly how I was not one of God’s sheep before He opened my eyes. For instance, before I was saved, I would get this weird feeling in my stomach whenever God was mentioned. I know it sounds strange, but it was completely real. If someone said something about serving, “Jesus,” I would start to feel kind of sick and my stomach muscles would tighten up, which creates that nauseating feeling of tension. It’s kind of like what your body does when you get really nervous and you feel horribly guilty; almost a feeling of being deceived with a lie so grand, that if it were true, your whole world would be turned upside down and you would be forever ashamed at your hypocrisy. All I knew was that it was very uncomfortable. Looking back, I definitely see the truth of these verses:
“For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” – Jesus (John 3:20-21)
I deeply hated that light. I couldn’t stand to be in its terrible beams. I knew that I was disobeying God and living my life selfishly, but I would never admit it to myself or others. I kept living the lie. I kept ignoring the pastor’s words every Sunday. I kept telling myself on the inside that “Jesus” was just a character whom we talked about during devotions and in church, but never really acknowledged as real the rest of the week. Nobody honestly enjoyed talking about Him, did they? All my friends loved sports, music, movies, and having fun. God was just a background thing. Of course, you had to say that He was number one in your life if an adult asked you, but you didn’t think anyone really followed that conviction. At least, this was my experience, and I know that there are many who go through the very same thing today.
Some unbelievers embrace a fake spirituality. They go on mission trips, read their Bible more than their friends do, and participate in all the activities that the more “spiritual” kids would do. Their hunger for God is never real; it’s always put on for the pride and false security that it provides. I wasn’t like that. A part of me never wanted to try that, because I knew that I could not live that way for long without realizing the utter hypocrisy of it. I didn’t desire to be with the Lord, so why try to make people think that I did? I decided to hide from God by blending in and saying just the right amount of spiritual things to get by, but still enjoy the world as much as possible without going “over the edge.” Let me tell you, that didn’t work out too well. I ended up going much closer to the edge then I wanted to believe, and was only saved by God’s grace out of my life of hypocrisy, sin, pride, and hopelessness.
The Power of Christ in Me
Today, I know my Lord. I know my Master’s call, and I long for it. I truly cherish His presence and worship Him for answering me when I call, and for the mercy he has continually shown me (Psalm 116:1). It’s all real now. It’s not just a collection of cliché phrases and empty activities. It’s power. It’s truth. A while ago in church, we sang “In Christ Alone.” I usually play my violin in the worship team, but that Sunday I was in the pews singing. The words ran through my mind as I sang, and I thought about the meaning of each sentence. It was all so full of God’s beauty and truth. “This is the power of Christ in me…” I now really had the power of Christ in me. It was really there! Praise God! How did I deserve such a gift? I completely rejected Him, and He still gave this to me. “From life’s first cry, to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny…” It was true! I had given my life, my career, my desires, and my ultimate destiny to Him, waiting to see how He would use me to glorify His name. I never would have even considered the possibility of such a thing happening to me a few years before.
Come to Him
When I was living for myself, I didn’t actually think, “Wow, I’m a complete hypocrite, but I guess I’ll just hide from God and try to have fun with as much sin as I can get away with.” At the time, it didn’t seem like that at all. After all, nobody thinks that they’re evil. I sure didn’t. I told myself that I was ok. I wasn’t as “good” as other Christians, but I was better than a lot of people I knew, and God would have grace on me, right? Well, what I didn’t realize is that God will give eternal life to His sheep; those who know Him and follow Him. I wasn’t following Him, and I didn’t know Him. I abhorred even the mention of His name. How could I claim to know Him? I never worked to please Him. How could I say that I followed Him?
I remember moments where I realized that I hated going to church. It was uncomfortable, boring, and didn’t mean anything to me. I knew that I shouldn’t hate going to church. I knew that it was wrong to not want to be taught God’s ways. But I didn’t see how I could enjoy it. I pushed my thoughts aside and kept shutting God out of my life. If you seem to be caught in this cycle of hypocrisy, denial, and rejection, please don’t refuse your King’s calling any longer. Come to Him with an open heart. Taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8)! Don’t hold back your devotion to God. Let Him have your life, and surrender every part of yourself to His will. Only then will you be called one of His sheep. And when that happens, the glories of Christ will never cease in your life. He will take care of you. He will satisfy you, if only you will come to Him. Don’t put it off any longer. He’s waiting for you.