Sunday, July 5, 2009

Salvation, Sin, & Struggle

I thought of this the other day for some reason... It isn't based on Scripture, just an opinion. At Super Summer, someone was talking about how people think the "good testimonies" are the ones where people are caught up in drugs or crime or whatever, doing all this awful stuff, & then they feel God pull on their heart, & they turn away from that stuff to go to Him. But the person who was speaking said they liked testimonies where the person grew up in a Christian home, went to church their whole life, & still realized they needed God. I had never thought about it like that before. It kind of makes sense. When things are going so wrong in your life, clearly something is missing, so hopefully you realize that "something" is Jesus. But when you're raised in a Christian family & grow up in the church, you sometimes fall into this trap that you're already a good person & don't need to change anything.

I've heard so many testimonies of people who said, "I was saved when I was really young, but I re-dedicated later in life because I didn't really fully understand the decision I was making." Mac Powell from Third Day was speaking at a concert I went to once, & he told a story that I haven't forgotten. He told us his daughter received Christ at a very young age, & he was excited for her, but worried at the same time. He prayed & said "God, I'm glad she's making this decision, but I don't think she fully understands what You did for her." & God said "I don't think YOU fully understand what I did for you." How can we ever fully understand the awful things He went through, watching His Son die on the cross? & how can we understand what Jesus did on the cross? The pain & agony inflicted on Him because He loves us enough to die for us, even though we're sinful beings, & He's done nothing wrong... It's crazy to me. We can never fully grasp it.

I used to wonder why God called so many Christians to Him at such a young age. I think it's because when we're that young, we're still trying to figure things out. We're willing to listen & are more open to the idea that there's this amazing God who cares so deeply for us, & we need Him to get through life. We realize we've made mistakes & need to turn from them. When we get older, we start comparing ourselves to people we see around us. We think that since we don't drink, or cuss, or steal, or whatever, we're doing better than that other guy, so we're okay. But God doesn't judge us based on others, or as Francis Chan put it, "God doesn't grade on a curve." We are judged for EVERY mistake we make.

My challenge this summer has been finding all my "little sins" & getting rid of them. Our Falls Creek speaker, Scott Dawson, told a story that illustrates the concept really well. If God is a stream of water running through our life, & pebbles represent our sins, then throwing one pebble into the stream isn't going to make a huge difference. The water will still get past the pebble. But if we continue throwing in pebbles, eventually it's going to build a wall that blocks the water from getting to the other side. Our "little sins" may not seem like a big deal, but they build up. This summer, for me, has been about getting rid of the "little sins." I deleted music that cussed or talked about things that didn't glorify God. This doesn't mean I'm only listening to Christian music, just that I'm only listening to clean music. I also decided that some shows & movies weren't worth watching anymore, & some of my habitual "little sins" have come to my attention that I had never thought about before, like speeding. How many of us speed constantly? But God commands us in Hebrews 13:17 to respect our authority, which means respecting the laws they put in place. Maybe that's strange, but I had never thought of that as a sin before.

Getting rid of the "little sins" has been hard, but it has already made a big difference in my life. It's definitely worth the struggle.

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