When I was his age, I was doing sword drills in my Christian school. We would all gather in the adjoining Baptist church sanctuary, the entire student body from sixth to twelfth grade couldn’t have been more than seventy tidy students in slacks and skirts, boys in the pews on the left and girls on the right. The principal, who was assumed to be a 44-year-old virgin, would have us hold our Bibles above our heads, he would read out a reference, and we would race to look it up. The first one to find it would stand and read it aloud.
Matthew 13:11, “And he answered them, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given’.”
This was the game played when it was too rainy to go outside for P.E. We had chapel services on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Bible class daily. We had tests every Friday on newly memorized Bible verses.
Proverbs 24:21, “My son, fear the Lord and the king, and do not join with those who do otherwise.”
By the time I was fifteen, my entire life was devoted to the church. I went to a Christian school five days a week and a Baptist church on Wednesday night and twice on Sunday. I had a hefty collection of Contemporary Christian Music on both CD and cassette. I was the Contemporary Christian.
Mark 1:14, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
I went to my first “Jesus Festival” when I was sixteen. At the Christian Rock concerts that came to town, I volunteered to pray with those who came forward for the altar call and helped lead them to Christ.
Isaiah 45:18, “For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is God), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): I am the Lord, and there is no other.”
In these days, I can notice much truth in what I believed as a youth, but I’m also more aware of the falsities that accompanied it. I’m becoming more aware of how the naiveté I had in those days filled me with an all-or-nothing code. And although I could proudly stand and say exactly what I believed in from the divinity of Christ to Jesus’ stance on dancing, my own pride in having things all figured out clouded the distinction between things of God that should be taken in faith and the ideas and opinions formed about them that have gradually turned into “fact” over the years.
As I grew older, I guess the beliefs I held, as new evidences were revealed, began to transmogrify back into ideas. I no longer agreed with the collective consciousness of those I shared company with in the church. New moments occurred; new lessons were learned; new emotions created new needs. Beliefs can only be held when they support the reality we perceive. If they are held longer, we cease to learn and cease to grow.
I Corinthians 7:17, “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.”
I wonder what I’d believe if I had gone to a Jewish school.
This is an excerpt of The Rucksack Letters by Steve McAllister. Buy your copy of the eBook on Amazon.com.