The First 40 Years to Christ (Part 2/3) – Church Labels

Why did it take me 40 years to come to Christ?

I did not grow up in a family that recognized God, meaning that we did not pray, read the bible, talk about Him, or worship Him. However, oddly enough, my parents sent my sister and I to a Christian elementary school which we attended from Kindergarten thru 6th grade (we entered the public school system after elementary school). I asked my mother once why they sent us to this school since I would not consider us to be a family of believers, she confessed that it was because they knew we could get a better education than the public schools could provide. She states that our family held a belief in God but I suspect that it was more “agnostic”, they had respect for a supreme being that might have been God but nothing was ever discussed or taught to us in the home. I absolutely have no recollection of accepting Christ while attending elementary school, but it is undoubtedly possible. Nevertheless, my youth experience is based on an orphaned identity from God as our home life was not an example of a Christian home.  When I graduated from teenager to adult, my orphaned identity was further complicated as I could not fathom the logic of church “labels”. 

Matt 16:18 ……and on this rock I will build My church…..

The older I got, the more pessimistic I became, I was confused about Church’s in general. There are so many church types (I refer to them as labels): Catholics, Protestants, Presbyterian, Baptists, Methodists, Mormons, Apostolic, Jehovah Witnesses, Latter Day Saints, and on and on. These were all classified, rolled up, as “Christian” in my mind. I was confused as to why there were so many?  [I recently tried to research how many “Christian” church denominations there are in the world and the only common agreement I could find is that there are over 30,000 church denominations in the world.] My logical/analytical mind figured that if there was only one Jesus, how can there be so many different types of church’s offering different views of Christianity? By my logic, since most belief systems are different (some subtle), most of them must be wrong. 

If church’s are so fragmented, then why would I need to become part of something that, to me, appeared broken?  What if I chose wrong? If they can’t figure it out, then every single one of them were wrong. And then there were all of the rules, and in some cases rituals, that I was convinced that you needed to follow: you have to do this, you can’t do that, this is how you do it, you are wrong, you are right.  Finally, there was the conviction that church people force on you – if you failed, you were going to hell. “How dare you” I thought!! There was a state of “perfection” that you needed to be that appeared impossible to me. But which church was the right one? “Well, mine of course”, I would be told. It was a lost cause and felt like gambling to me and the odds were stacked against me. Well, I am a very imperfect person, which means I was going to hell anyway (if there is one), I might as well enjoy my life under my own terms. It was not worth it. It was all a waste of time and a farce. This is where I existed for almost 40 years. 

My wife was a “church goer” and I was ok with it; I even supported her taking our children. My thought was “what does it really hurt?”, and, “what if I am wrong?”. I wanted my family to at least have a chance. How noble of me, my rational mind at work.  I even went a few times on certain occasions or whenever I was bored and had nothing better to do; I was pretty much bored out of my mind at church while also feeling like I was being judged by some of the church members. I even told my wife that I was ok with her going to church but I didn’t want it to “run our lives”. As a result, church – or Christianity – was not a part of my family home life other than what my wife was able to sneak in in addition to the “Sunday crowd”. My perspective was clouded by “religion”; I was blinded to “THE” church that Jesus commissioned and to “THE” message of Jesus Christ.  During Labor Day weekend of 2008, my entire perspective changed forever; nobody can convince me otherwise. 

Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT) Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

To be continued in The First 40 Years to Christ (Church Encounter)

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