"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief." 1 Timothy 1:15
I grew up in a strict Christian home and we attended a strict church. The Bible was preached hard, and we were expected to live as the Bible commanded, which should be no surprise to anyone. Although the Bible was preached, it seemed there was also a set of rules and procedures we were to live by. There were some who allowed their preferences to become equal to Bible doctrine and they taught it as such.
When I was younger, my dad was a deacon and then accepted the role of head deacon. Our family was heavily involved in the church, and my parents taught Sunday school, worked in the bus ministry, and also led the Awana's program. They served in many capacities and were well respected in the church because of their service to others and the various leadership roles they were involved in.
At the time, I did not admire all they did and assumed that is how it was for all families that went to church. The older I got, the more I realized things were not always like that with most families, and it often seems as if a small percentage of the people do most of the work. I was not the best kid in the church and some would even say I was near the bottom end of the spectrum when it came to proper behavior.
I got into dust-ups with the bus kids, other church kids, and anyone else I thought wronged me or my friends. I started to develop a reputation, and in Junior Church, an adult would sit in my section or even right next to me. When promotion Sunday came around, the teachers knew who I was as if they had an FBI file on me. I wore out our family paddle, but yet I still sought out my own way. The older I got the more my reputation grew, and it seemed the narrative was that I had spent time in Alcatraz and had an anchor tattoo on my left arm. I was no angel, but I wasn’t as bad as the stories people told about me. My reputation grew as I got older and it seemed I could do no right, so I figured I was better off just being whom everyone thought I was.
Because my parents were well respected, it sometimes brought the spotlight on me. There were many who wondered why I could not be more like my parents, and there were some who higher standards for me than my parents did. My clothes, haircut, and the way I walked were scrutinized and adults felt the need to tell me how I needed to change these things. My heart rebelled against this but more than that, my heart rebelled against God. I desired to go my own way, and would often do and say things simply for shock value. When I was 18, we left the church and moved to Chicago, and I was full of bitterness and unresolved sin in my life. I felt like the biggest sinner at the time, and sitting in church only made me feel guilty about my sinful condition. I am thankful God did not let me stay in that condition, and I am grateful He pursued me and brought me back to Himself.
God will pursue you in your sinful condition and the closer you get to Him, the more you will see the wickedness in your life. Jesus, the Light of the World, highlights the darkness of sin and reveals the wickedness in our heart. I am grateful that He saved me, and that He patiently walks with me and takes me through the sanctification process. I do sometimes feel like the chiefest of sinners, but I know God is faithful and just to forgive. 1 John 1:9 states, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
How do you see yourself? Do you see your sin as God sees it or do you compare yourself with others? Do you ask God to search your heart or are you content being lukewarm? May we be grateful for the great gift of salvation, and may we never forget our need for a holy God to rescue us from our sinful condition.
Stay in the fight!