Thursday, April 19, 2007

My Name Is Lauralea, And I'm A Recovering Evangelical Christian

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.


And then


One day


The beauty and truth of THE NEXT verse hit me squarely between the eyes and I've never been the same since.


That verse?


"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.

11 comments:

  1. Well said, Lauralea!

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  2. Yep, I agree.





    That's one of the things I like about you.




    It's also one of the reasons I need you.



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  3. Excellent.

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  4. Welcome to EC Anonymous.

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  5. Great post Lauralea.



    I sometimes post over where Randall hangs his hat.


    I'm not sure how far along I am in the journey to grace and love. But at least I know I'm on the way because if I peek behind myself, well it's just that I can! My earliest memories of the whole EV gig were as a child hearing Ernest C. Manning (Preston's father) yelling at me on the radio because I was bad, while my mother listened to him on Sun. afts.



    Trust the weekend goes well for all of you



    Dave

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  6. so very well put, Laura. Expresses many of the sentiments i have been thinking through in the past few years...

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  7. There's a lot in there, I'd say.



    Now isn't the time or place to discuss it.




    But grace is a good thing to accept.

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  8. Amazing post, Lauralea.



    Our church touched on this idea last week and it hit me hard how I view God as a cop. How do you have intimacy with that?



    The speaker read the verse about "God is Love..and perfect love (God)casts out all fear". That was astounding to me..to not think of God and be on the defense.

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  9. Hello. My name is SharonK and I am also a Recovering Evangelical Christian.



    God wants me to love those I work with.




    He said it was more important to love them than to judge them.



    I take his message of love seriously.



    I say Amen to your comments Lauralea. Amen.

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  10. So glad I don't go to your church. I'm blown away! The world is reading this junk and so many of them are NOT SAVED jOHN 3;16!

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  11. "Joyce"



    I'm not sure you caught the point of the post but for many of us who have experienced life under law and guilt and good works, salvation and God's grace to us is Good News.




    This is huge and big and the Gospel, Good News.



    We are saved by Faith which results in good works. We don't have to teach people to do the good works, or say the right words so that they will be saved.



    There are many "Evangelical Christians" (And yes, I concede that the use of that word is an over generalization) who believe that guilt keeps them in their place and that if they do the right things they will be saved.



    That is a lie.



    "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.



    For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."





    You are always welcomed back at Gateway, and on my blog. We miss you.


















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