Lite or Light Christian

My baptism with Aunt Nola Mathre

My baptism with Aunt Nola Mathre

I grew up in a loving Christian home. My parents had me baptize when I was six weeks old and brought me to the worship services at church throughout my childhood. For the most part I enjoyed going to church. Sunday school, especially the Bible stories, was something I grasped easily. I grew up singing and believing the song, “Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so.” I never wandered too far from church or faith.

Several of my high school and college friends rebelled against the faith. Drinking, drugs or other addictive behavior pulled some of them out of the “safe” environment of church and family. Others just sorted of drifted away out of boredom or dissatisfaction. Meanwhile I continued to find meaning and identity as a Christian, even at a secular college.

Conversion by Caravaggio

Conversion by Caravaggio

Other friends had powerful religious conversions in which their lives made a 180 degree turn. They had been running away from God or ignoring him, but one day they embraced faith in Christ and their life changed. Like Paul on the road to Damascus, they had seen the light and struck down by God’s grace (Acts 9:1-5). Like Paul, they were zealous for others to come out of darkness and into the light.

I marveled at their stories of transformation. Part of my wonder was a sincere praise for God’s amazing grace towards His children. But part of my marvel was envy. I never had the “amazing” conversion story of being trapped in darkness and seeing the light. Among my evangelical friends, I felt somewhat inadequate.

Once, when I was camping after college, I started a conversation with two women my age. The conversation turned to religious faith and they asked me the fateful evangelical question, “When did you become a Christian?” I responded, “When I was baptized.” Since I was baptized as an infant, they could not comprehend this. I did not fit their standard of being old enough to “ask Jesus into my life.”  I was not “real” Christian in their eyes.

For some time I thought of myself as “Lite” Christian, not having the full-conversion experience that my evangelical friends had. But now I see myself more as a Light Christian, who has had the joy of living in God’s light all my life. Christ is the source of light and I am thankful for every time it shines on me. As Paul proclaims, For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6).

Have you ever wrestled with feelings of inferiority in your faith?

Lord Jesus, let your light shine in and through me.

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5 thoughts on “Lite or Light Christian

  1. Kitsi Vadheim

    Hi John,
    Thanks for sharing these thoughts today. When we were young, our best friends were the children of the Baptist minister, since the Baptist church and parsonage were on our block. I often attended youth programs at their church, where I frequently heard the exhortation to ‘decide for Christ’. The Baptist youth could always point to a specific day and time when they had become a Christian, and often spoke about their experiences. This never felt right to me, but lacking a definitive ‘decision’ for Christ left me feeling that I had somehow missed some essential aspect of Christianity. I greatly appreciated your blog today, because it put all these old memories into perspective. Some people, like Paul, make a clear decision that abruptly changes the focus and direction of their lives. I am one of the others, whose walk with God has been lacking in such overt drama, and that is who I am. God knows me and loves me just as I am, and it makes me smile to remember that.

    Reply
    1. Pastor John Keller Post author

      Kitsi, thanks for your comments. There are as many paths to Jesus as there are individuals. Yet it is Christ who brings the light to us all. Some with drama, others more like a slow steady dawning.

      Reply
      1. celticanglican

        A slow steady dawning was more like my story. To make a long story short, I was baptized in the Episcopal Church, lapsed in my attendance for several years as a kid and returned as a teen. I was confirmed at the age of 18 in 1998. I recall being attacked by a few evangelicals online shortly after my confirmation because I couldn’t pin down a specific time when I made a “decision for Christ”. It’s so sad when some people try to take away the salvation as an ongoing relationship with God aspect and treat it as a one-time event that has to be gotten just right. For me, I have no problem with admitting to having been a Christian from the time of my baptism and an active, practicing one since 16. ~AJtheIrishLass

  2. Ken Ranos

    I don’t know if I ever wrestled with a feeling of inferiority with my faith. There was a time when I wished I could have one of those amazing experiences born-again Evangelicals seem to have, but in college, most of them that I met turned out to be obnoxious, not-nice people. My jealousy ended there. Plus, my theology says such a decision is impossible, anyway–being Christian has nothing to do with our initiative and everything to do with the undeniable calling of the Holy Spirit.

    Reply

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