Over the past few years, I’ve learned that one of the reasons Christians can come across as condescending or hypocritical is because we don’t want to share the dark parts of our testimony. The struggles with alcohol, drugs, addiction, mental health, anxiety, depression… The parts where we don’t have it all together.
But we can’t glorify Jesus unless we are willing to talk about what He’s delivered us from. Instead of preaching, “You need to fix this in your life,” we have to start with, “I’ve been there.” We have to make it personal. We have to be real and transparent with each other if we want to earn the right to speak into each other’s lives.
As a child, I struggled with OCD-induced anxiety. In an attempt to protect our kids from a similar experience, my husband and I agreed to always reassure them after spills or messes. Life isn’t perfect, and that’s okay was our parenting motto. That turned out to be especially important for our daughter, who would seek affirmation after doing something she considered bad. Every time she knocked over a drink or tipped over a plate full of food, she would ask us things like, “But it will be okay, right?” or “But we can fix it, right?” and we would usually respond with a quick, “Yes, it will be alright, but let’s try to be more careful.”
I assumed she only asked those questions to make sure she wasn’t in trouble until one day after a few cheerios fell off of her tray, she looked at me and asked, “But you still love me, right?”
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.
– Romans 8:28
I have a tendency to look at verses like Romans 8:28 and see them as conditional: if I am called according to His purpose, then all things will work together for my good. My mind then immediately goes down the path of, “How do I know if I’m called? What if I’ve missed my calling and this verse no longer applies to me?”
And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover. When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?”
– Matthew 26:19-22
These verses record the conversation at the Last Supper. I’ve always found it interesting that when Jesus announces one of His disciples is going to betray Him, none of them deny the betrayal or try to protect Him from it. These men had been following Jesus for years at this point, and yet not one of them could confidently say, “I would never betray you!”
Raise your hand if you have ever been personally victimized by this message. I can’t count the number of sermons I’ve heard warning against the dangers of being a “bad” Christian and how it could land you in Hell. I would go so far as to say that this type of sermon was one of the main reasons I grew up doubting my salvation (something I talk about in depth here).
“I believe in God, and I asked Jesus into my life – but how do I know if it worked? How do I know for sure that I am saved?”
In the past several weeks, I’ve had three different people ask me this. And each time, it’s like having a conversation with myself five years ago. Why do we not talk about this more? I think this is one of the enemy’s favorite places to attack believers, especially new believers. The faith is new and fresh, and if he can get even a kernel of doubt in our hearts, we will never be able to live the life God wants for us. If we are not equipped with a way to fight this, we can spend years – or decades – living a life of uncertainty.