I accepted Christ at a young age. I was raised in a Christian home where going to church was not an option and the Bible was a common sight. I’ve never really known a time in my life when I didn’t believe in the saving grace of Christ. This, in my opinion, has been a huge blessing to my life and has kept me from a lot of pain and suffering. Generally, I strove to be obedient, well behaved, and to do good. I wasn’t much of a rebel growing up, which I ironically have been made fun of for. In high school, I had no problem with keeping my language clean, saying no to drugs, smoking, and alcohol. I made a choice to not to have sex before marriage, despite having the opportunity to do so. This also may be why I was okay with getting married at the age of 18. In many other ways, I think that this made me ignore a growing weight on my shoulders and made me blind to more subtle and dangerous sins.
When I accepted Christ at a young age, I never really had a moment where I dealt with or even acknowledged my “Old Man” so to speak. What 6 year old can look upon his life and recognize his sin, his need for change? Let’s be honest, most can’t fully understand the extent of their sins even if they can comprehend that bad behavior has consequences.
Having a 6 year old son of my own has now given me incredible perspective about my own young life. Like, “wow he is a lot like me” and “wow, I need to apologize to my mother.” It’s almost funny, because his actions that drive me the most crazy are the ones that I know he gets from me. It also shows me that when I accepted Christ, my motives were likely born from fear tactics more than any real understanding of what Christ did on the cross.
As I grew in both physical age and maturity, I began to better understand the decision I made at a young age and stayed true to it. Thanks to my wonderful church family I chose to lean into it. I firmly believed then, and now, that Christ died on the cross as propitiation for my sins. For many years after I would look back on my life with pride of a job well done. So what’s the problem?
What’s the Problem?
I am a sinner like everyone else, but my pride at being a Christian at such a young age has often blinded me to the truth of my actions. The other day my wife confronted me and said, “the only reason you never swore or cursed in high school is because you were way to prideful.” She wasn’t saying anything I didn’t already know, this is an issue that I had already thought of even if I never voiced it. What’s so bad about that? The issue is that I didn’t swear because I believed it made me better than the other students. My motivation was born of arrogance, not for any desire to honor God with my actions. This is the root of the Old Man that was still clinging to my back like a sweaty shirt after a long day of weed-whacking (or weed-eating as many of my friends would say). I often did the “right thing,” but I rarely did the right thing because I was trying to serve the Lord. I did the right thing because I believed I was better than other people. I sat in my ivory tower of age appropriate language, haughty with my PG Language. The truth was, it didn’t matter what Paul told the Ephesians in his letter to them, I likely would have done it just as a way to build myself up.
Sure, doing the right thing even with the wrong motives is better than doing the wrong thing. I agree with that. However, it also means that I’ve never really dealt with the sins of my past, my old man, who is basically an amazing PR person with the ability to spin straw into gold. Seriously, he puts Rumpelstiltskin to shame with his skill. Yes, I realize that by saying this, I’m essentially being prideful, about being prideful. Well, what can I say, I’m just that great, I mean prideful. See the problem?
Why bring all this up?
Recently I have been confronting my past, or more specifically, sins. It started with me humbling myself and sincerely emailing an old employer and asking for forgiveness for my behavior during that time. I then had a run in with someone I thought I’d never see again, who I had wronged from long ago and had another, wonderful opportunity to sincerely apologize. This then led to me revisiting the early years of my marriage to my wife, from nearly 15 years ago, and once again apologizing, for several things actually.
You may be thinking, why bring this up after so long? Move on man! Well it’s not been that easy for me. The honest answer is, I had blinded myself to the reality of my actions. I had seriously never confronted the sin behind my actions. That prideful part of me was able to do some serious damage control to my conscience and mitigate blame. Ever hear someone say, “well I’m still not as bad as that person.” That was basically the platform for my life. Turns out, I really like being better than other people.
So here I am, finally, really confronting a major weakness in my life. I’m 33 years old now, and the truth of my actions have really been weighing on me. Better late than never. It occurs to me that this is likely the case for many people that accepted Christ at a young age. Our Old Man, our sinful nature, our major weaknesses, grow with us. They become a comfortable part of who we are. Without thinking, we often turn a blind eye to it. We even fool ourselves into thinking that it can’t be changed, it’s just who we are. You do you right? Sure, we have already admitted that we are sinners and we have been saved by grace. Did we say to ourselves, “sure I have little sins, but they are just little sins, no reason to make drastic changes.” Little sins can’t hurt us right? Did we justify our lives with going to church every Sunday and choose to say no to the offer of a cigarette or drink of beer? We don’t need to change, everyone else should strive to be more like us? Was our motivation to do good born of pride rather than our love for God? Did we spend much of our time comparing ourselves to others rather than the glory of God? My heart was blinded by a twisted form of legalism that was more important than a real relationship with a heavenly Father.
What Can We Do About It?
I talked a lot about my own issues and situations. They provided the catalyst that opened my eyes to a more real issue: my pride. My pride is what was keeping me blinded to many sins in my life. What caused this to happen? At least that’s what I’d be asking right now. Honestly, it all started with genuine, sincere prayer that God would open my eyes. It helped that my wife had been praying for this for some time as well. My question for you is, when is the last time you had that very real, very honest conversation with God? We all have problems, the specifics are less important than a very real desire to face those problems head on.
Currently our youngest son is only 6 months old. When he is upset, endlessly crying, I say to him, “just tell me what’s wrong”. Generally, if I’m asking that of a person who clearly can’t talk, I’m already frustrated and desperate. As a parent it’s very frustrating when you desire more than anything to help your children, but sadly they are not equipped to handle communicating it to us. Lucky for us, that’s just not the case with God. We are able to communicate to our Heavenly Father, we just often don’t. I know it’s crazy to think, but God really does answer prayer. I recommend, making the willing and often painful steps to correcting your life.