A recent sermon at the Wesconnett Church of Christ was about whether we are a Christian. I’m not going to even try to relate all that was covered. You can check it out at:
The thought I retained is that being a Christian is so much more than just saying, feeling and believing we are one. I really connected with the idea that beyond being persuaded to be a Christian we must become a disciple. A disciple is one that has disciplined their life to be like their master. The term Christian was given to the early disciples because they were so like Christ–in thought, word, and deed. This ideas is not new to me–as I have heard it most of my life. But now I’m hearing it afresh.
Yes, I now worship at the Church of Christ. And it’s with trembling gratitude that I can say I’m a part of the church of Christ. This is the faith I found last year. It’s where things were finally explained in a way that makes sense. It is a place that doesn’t run from questions–in fact they welcome questions! I had known for some time that good teachers like questions. And that everything that is really true can stand up to any questions. But in my former religion we were taught not to question–as if that was somehow wrong, I was always given the answer ‘”do you want to be contentious?” Or “are you questioning God’s way?” These ‘answers’ never answered my question and only left me feeling like I was ‘bad’ and something I shouldn’t be. Another thing I began to notice was that it seemed to be “the way” of God that was worshiped, almost more than God or Jesus. In fact that was one of the things I remember that started to really bother me–we didn’t sing hardly any hymns that praised God. We didn’t really seem to worship Jesus as our Savior. We looked upon Him more as an elder brother, someone to pattern our life after.
The Church of Christ wasn’t the kind of church I thought I was looking for. In many ways, it seems a lot like my former religion. There are not musical instruments in the worship service, communion is served every Sunday, both claim to follow only the Bible and they are not churches that you “join”. Yet this new church is so different. As I look back, it seems to me that my former religion tried to pattern after the New Testament church. Whereas, this faith seeks to only follow what the New Testament says to do. This may sound the same, but it isn’t.
This spring I was telling one of my daughters of how much I liked the church I have been attending. I explained to her of how I had came to first attend the church and how warm the people were. I told of attending the Ladies bible classes and then of the personal bible studies I had with two of the ladies. Now I tell her of how much I am still enjoying it–how that there are no ‘off limit’ subjects and how everything is explained in ways that make sense.
I remember how—at those early Bible studies—as they answered my questions and I read the scriptures, I could see things that my former religion did that were not according to scripture, along with not doing some things that were scriptural. But then the topic of baptism was introduced. This was a hard one for me. I had been baptized as a teenager and it seemed wrong to be baptized again. (My former church had the same idea of being re-baptized–although I never understood why). But there was one big difference between the two. In my former religion baptism came a year or so after conversion, after the person had ‘proved them self’ (although I’m still not quite sure who we were supposed to be approved by). In this new church the teaching is that baptism is a part of being saved. This was a new concept for me. But as I read more, I realized that is what the scriptures say! Then one day in the study, I was asked if I had been baptized for the remission of sins and I realized “no” I don’t remember those words being said at any baptism I ever attended. (When I ask my daughter about this she says that she thinks it was implied. But this doesn’t add up for me. Shouldn’t my sins have been forgiven when I was saved when we “professed” or made our choice to serve God?)
But back then, as I thought more about the things I was learning about baptism and as I continued to really read the Bible–what it says, not what I thought I knew–it just suddenly came to me. It was so simple–it’s what the Word says, so just obey it! And so I did. I was baptized–if I remember correctly–in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for the remission of sins. It was such a different experience for me, nothing at all like my former one. This baptism was not solemn, instead it was joyous! The ladies and minister were happy–I was a new sister! And as I was telling my daughter–I never expected to feel any different after the baptism–but I did! I felt new, alive and oh so joyous! And such a peace! I thought I had peace before, but never like this! This is truly a ‘peace that passes understanding’. It’s with me all the time, a constant joy. I can’t even find words to explain it. As time has passed, as I continue to learn, I now have a deeper understanding of baptism.
I thought I had been a Christian since high school, so the idea of being termed a ‘new convert’ at first seemed really strange to me. But I realize it’s what I am! I am learning what it means to obey the Word. I still have lots of foggy areas—a lot of former concepts that need correction. There is so much I still need to understand. But the wonderful thing is that I’m learning as I go and that’s ok. Because at last, I’m on the right path–learning and following the New Testament Word as it is written.
I’ve had several good discussions with my daughter and hope to have more. I want to be able to tell all my children, family and friends the wonder of what I now have. My blog posts, along with other media, are my way of starting to reach out to others. I hope with God’s help and prayer I can continue to be a disciple of Christ forever!