Tag Archives: Paul

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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Mystery of Trust

Paul at the Areopagus by artist Kennedy Paizs

One of the great mysteries of faith is why some people believe in Jesus and others do not.  One trusts completely while another turns away.  In Acts 17, Paul comes to Thessalonica and preaches in the Jewish synagogue.

And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three sabbath days argued with them from the scriptures,  explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This is the Messiah, Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you.”  Some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. (Act 17:2-4)

Paul was persuasive and some came to trust in Jesus, yet many did not believe. I recognize that the Holy Spirit, prayer, and human temperament all play a role, yet I am amazed that within one family, exposed to the same environment and influences, some members place their trust in Jesus and other members do not. The parents and church community express the gospel in word and deed, but not everyone hears and responds. It is like the seed in Jesus’ parable of the sower in Mark 4. Some seed falls on rocky soil, some among the weeds, some on the trodden path, and some on the good soil. Only the see in the good soil takes root and bears fruit.

Occasionally what seems to be the random nature of faith can be disheartening. My intellectual curiosity can twist me into knots. At those times, I “fold the wings of my intellect” and simply rest in  Jesus. I trust in his mercy and grace. Jesus has touched and changed my life through the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Word of God has impacted my life. And I have seen other lives changed as well. With hope I continue to fling the seed of God’s Word, trusting in God and not myself.

So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ, Romans 10:17

Lord Jesus, create in each of us a faith that bears fruit for your kingdom.