I used to believe that it was imperative to one's eternal well being for one to "ask Jesus into your heart".
I used to be motivated by fear and guilt.
When others heard, "take this bread that is broken for you in remembrance of me" I heard, "whoever eats unworthily eats damnation to himself".
When others read "(the wages of sin is death but) THE GIFT OF GOD IS ETERNAL LIFE THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD!"... I read "THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH...."
Things have been shifting inside me for the past 10 years or so.
I don't believe, anymore, that there is a certain set of words that someone has to say- no charm or spell, if you will, that if incanted will magically impart eternal life in heaven and prevent eternal damnation in hell.
I don't believe, anymore, that Salvation is a destination, and have come to appreciate it, rather, as a process.
At some point in Children's Ministry, I couldn't tell them, anymore, that they needed to ask Jesus in their heart. I began using words like, "ask Jesus to walk with you" or "tell Jesus you want to walk with him".
I blame John 3:17.
I grew up in an Evangelical church, and, like all good little Christian girls, one of the first Bible verses I memorized was John 3:16: (say it with me, now- and don't we all know it in the King James Version?!) "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him might not perish but have everlasting life".
That verse, for some, means that God loved us so much that he was willing to sacrifice himself for us- to take our punishment so we can live forever in heaven.
To me it was the conviction of my guilt. It was MY fault that Jesus had to die. It was good and right that I should feel guilty, because I most undoubtedly was.
The beauty and truth of THE NEXT verse hit me squarely between the eyes and I've never been the same since.
"God didn't send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save it."
Jesus came to save me. Not to condemn me.
I've been relatively guilt free ever since.
I know it makes me seem a little radical at times. I understand that I'm hard to understand at times. But there it is.
I don't believe, anymore, in "asking Jesus into your heart".
I believe in Grace.
I don't buy into guilt and condemnation anymore.
I buy into love and restoration.
I don't advocate saying the right words, wearing the right clothes, listening to certain music or watching certain movies or avoiding certain books... I basically reject the "Christian Sub-Culture" of separation from the world in order to avoid contamination by it.
I embrace the world, because the people in it are people, like me, that Jesus loved enough to die for and not condemn.
So, if I say "the wrong thing" or have a little too much cleavage showing, or enjoy a glass of scotch at a friend's house, or read Harry Potter books... just remember,
My name is Lauralea, and I'm a recovering Evangelical Christian.