How can someone spend a lot of time in church and consider themselves a Christian and not have salvation? This story is from a woman who was raised in a solid Christian family her whole life, but was not saved until the end of high school. How can the most important aspect of Jesus Christ be missed? She knew about Jesus Christ but did not know Jesus.
“The candy wrappers crunched loudly as I would draw each long tress of red licorice from the stash of candy I nurtured under my seat. For some reason my Sunday school buddies and I would file up to the front row of our little chuch every single Sunday and take the same seats. The front row was where our families liked to see us, but it wasn’t the best location for sneaking candy into church. Eventually, someone in the choir would give me a glaring look of disappointment; it abated the noisy snacking until we heard the congregation roar in song. I stood up with a fresh stick of candy and mouthed the words to one of those all so familiar hymns.
Was this place really a church I wondered? We were meeting in the basement of a drug store. Before we moved to the area we used to drive up a hill to our old church, which had a large white steeple with a cross on top of it. “We are starting a new church, “ my parents told me. They were among the other families, who with a little outside help, actually did raise enough money to build a church of our own.
There were lots of nice families in the church and I have been blessed with many life long friendships from the group, which I value to this day. Interestingly along with my best friends at church, we attended every single church event for our age group. It was Sunday school followed by church, on Sunday mornings, then to the “youth group” on Sunday nights, then choir every Wednesday evening. In those days there was great consistency, every week was identical to the next. “You’re going to church, Sunday is the Lord’s day” my father would say. This schedule was followed 52 weeks a year, every year that I lived under my parent’s roof. The consistency was irrevocable. My parents were and are loving, committed Christians. From a young age my sisters and I were taught who God and Jesus were. We said our prayers every night before we got tucked into bed, then, we listened to a tale from Uncle Arthur’s Bed Time stories (usually a story of enrichment with some type of lesson).
With all the flurry of Christian activities going on around me, I was able to tune it all out. My interest in candy surpassed my interest in the Sunday sermon. Sunday school provided a great history of the Old Testament. I remember the plagues, Mishack, Shadrack, and Abendigo, of course the story of Rebecca, Adam and Eve, Noah’s ark, and Jonah being swallowed by the whale. I knew that Jesus died on the cross, but knowledge of it, didn’t seem to impact my life. I guess I was a good kid, I never got into trouble, rarely missed a day of school, and scored OK grades. I basically did what was asked of me. I didn’t stick out very much. I wasn’t really an angel either; I did like to play tricks on people. I liked to make people laugh and enjoyed entertaining them.
When I got to high school, people started forming into groups. I had lots of friends, but I really didn’t fit into any particular group. I began to search for a place to belong. Along came my good Sunday school friends. They were going to a Christian meeting for high school kids which crossed over many different school districts and had no particular religious affiliation. I agreed to go with them. First of all, when I got there, it turned out to be a cool place, with cool people who had a loaded agenda. Everyone sang songs with incredible enthusiasm (this was nothing like what we put out in choir). Then a message was presented that had a familiar ring. I had heard John 3:16 before, I even had to memorize it at one point. I was engaged. This time it was stated with clarity like I had never known, the part about whosoever beleiveth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life, was presented as an offer that I had to act on. It always sounded like a win but I never made it personal. I never decided to act on it and allow it to change my life. Why? All those hours sitting in church actually turn out to be something like this:
Sunday school: K-3 (1 hour X 52 weeks/yr X 13 years) = 676 hours
Church Services 4-12 (1 hourX 52 weeks/year X 8 years) = 416
Youth group: (7th – 12th) 2 hours X 52 weeks/yr X 6 years) = 624
It amounts to 1716 hours of exposure! That is 71 days or 10.2 weeks of Christian messaging, with no salvation.
How did I miss this very important message?
The question still stands to many, if you were attending church and all those church activities how can a simple message elude you? Perhaps I was tuned out, not ready, not searching, I think all three. It reinforces keeping the message simple, spending one on one time with a child with the message. It belittles the idea that just showing up has any penetrating value. The key is to realize you can’t work your way to heaven, it is God’s gift to us if we believe. What an act of love.
The lesson here is stunning. Look how much time she spent in church. Christianity was Churchianity and not relationship. She was never sat down and told about Biblical salvation. She intellectually believed in Jesus but was not saved. The main reason Jesus Christ came to earth got lost in the background.
Salvation does not come from time in the pews, good deeds church attendance, or understanding what Jesus did. The Bible can be studied and taught like a textbook of facts and stories which easily dissociates the reality and linkage to a personal relationship with Jesus. Be very careful in your self analysis.
I also asked her why so many people reject God or fail to seek true salvation. She said this:
“Having It All, but Coming Up Empty:
Self sufficiency leads to competency. Competency leads to overconfidence which leads to feelings of sovereignty then personal omnipotence. In this omnipotent state, one doesn’t need to look outside of themselves. Why would they be inclined? What role would God possibly play? Who needs Him? Every sign as the omnipotent human walks down the road, reaffirms this self-reliance. There are superficial rewards at every turn.
I can maintain & exceed my own health
I can sustain my needs
I can create a family and meet all their needs
I can afford those things I enjoy.
I can be generous
I can achieve
I can exceed.”