People have had varied opinions about people who are born again and most of the time they have been in the negative. This however does not negate the fact that salvation is a very personal experience. I say this because it is easy to judge someone’s experience when you do not know what it is like to walk a mile in their shoes. I have been guilty of this judgment on people a million times too. The common question “How can someone who is born again do that?” or “What kind of salvation is that?” or the famous quote “If that is what you call salvation then I am never getting born again!” Sounds familiar?
It is unfortunate for the times people have misrepresented Jesus Christ to us or we to them. The truth of the matter is one’s contrary behavior to what is expected of a child of God does not the change the character of God and He cannot be deceived. He knows His true children and just as there is a photocopy,there is a true copy of salvation. Today I don’t wish to dwell on true or false born again Christians as this is not my job (thank God) but God’s. Today I write about the truth about being a born again Christian.
The day I gave my life to Jesus as my personal savior was the best. I mean I felt like I was in a bubble of happiness. You know how colours explode in the sky and you are the happiest you have ever been? That was me. As far as the whole world was concerned I was new and the challenges of the body and flesh were dead to me. I was perfect. Or so I thought until I had to pick up my notebook and start jotting down the painful yet beautiful truth of being in Christ. It is off essence for me to state that salvation belongs to Jesus and is sustained and perfected by the Holy Spirit. Without either, salvation would be a myth and an unattainable goal for all of us.
#SHOCK1: You remain totally human susceptible to all human feelings and emotions.
Have you ever had a rude shock? I have and it was that I remained perfectly flawed and human after my salvation. I found myself drawn to things that were not godly and they looked good to my eyes just as they had before. Every human emotion was present and alive. Jealousy, pride, boredom, disobedience, stubbornness and all you can imagine.
TRUTH: Salvation does not replace your human nature, it only steps in to assist you become more humane in your nature. One has to strive to overcome all the vile human emotions and instead display a little mercy, a little compassion, a little love, a little generosity, a little patience, everything that goes against our self-centered nature. As the tree of the Holy Spirit grows in you, you will soon produce its gifts as seen in Galatians 5:22.
#SHOCK2: Your weaknesses are not only present but magnified
If there is something that you were struggling with,say alcohol. It does not go away immediately. It becomes a struggle to get out of as an addict pursues the rehab to become clean. Trust me you will fail and give in to it enough times before you win this battle. And even when you do overcome ,you will constantly have to keep guard for you can relapse if you expose yourself to this addiction again.
TRUTH: It is a battle between light and darkness. At this moment you are aware of what is at stake and need to fight for the light since the devil will not let you go out of darkness that easy. Or did you think he would walk away that quick? He does not take defeat kindly and you become marked for his pursuit for your downfall. Take heart,a victor is not one who has never fallen but one who rises up each time they fall. Jesus clearly tells us it is in our weaknesses that His power is made perfect in us, 2 Corinthians 12:9.
#SHOCK 3: Transformation is not instant
I expected to be transformed to a good person immediately yet this did not happen. When I saw a friend who had hurt me, I would curse them in my heart yet all I wanted to do was love them. Be the bigger person. Be like Jesus but no. I have struggled with forgiveness, bitterness and so much more.
TRUTH: Salvation is like an organ transplant. It is not instant. The doctors have to keep monitoring this person for quite a long time one that can even be years before they give the patient a clean bill of health. Let’s not forget the amount of medication they have to take for this organ to be accepted by the system without a hitch.
#SHOCK 4: The pressure to be perfect/Miss everything-is-alright.
This is where the pressure of the society; family, friends, church, school, workmates and the world to be a perfect person sets in. People now have to stop and examine your ways to see if they match that of a Christian even when the jury are not themselves born again. You are expected to act as a Christian should or how your church doctrines have been stated.
This is quite scary because you have to keep up appearances in public so you don’t disappoint the pastor, your parent your friends by acting otherwise. It does not matter if you are struggling with something.
You could have been engaged in adultery last night and since people expect the perfect pastor to preach, you stand on that altar even when you know you are first to confess. Instead you end up a slave to your sins and tormented by the fact you seem to be the only one struggling as everyone looks fine.If you even disclose this struggle to one who can help you in prayer,you think otherwise,for their judgement and condemnation of your sin is obvious.
TRUTH: This is a lie of the devil and religious acts will not save anyone. We are all struggling with something and definitely far from perfect. I fall all the time and sin every day. I have been the recipient of God’s grace a million times to remain humble in the understanding that our flesh is a ferocious beast set out to destroy us and will SURELY win unless God saves us from it.
The one who said Christians are forgiven sinners was quite right. Church is not a house for perfect people but a hospital for the wounded and sick seeking healing. This is the truth of our God as Jesus so rightly put it in Luke 5:31 “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
#SHOCK 5: We are a complete work in salvation
One may think that salvation puts someone in a position of being complete and whole as a work for God. We experience this when the society judges us harshly for not being godly in an area we are still personally trying to learn about or an area we are still to overcome.
I was personally deeply hurt when someone dear to my heart the other day asked me “How could you do that Ruthie, you are a youth leader in your church, a former Christian union Chairperson.” It’s as if being this things and being a Christian meant I was complete and not in need of any work. I am far from done and most Christian are too.
TRUTH: We are all works in progress before our Father in Heaven and our Tutors Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. No one is complete. Others by grace of God have had most of their work done. We all are still learning how to love, be patient, be selfless, to be faithful, less afraid, how to serve and so much more. And so it is written “…He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” Philippians 1:6.See it’s still in progress till then.
#SHOCK 6: It’s a call to service
This is something that I understood immediately I got born again. That I have to work as hard as possible in God’s service as this is what God expects us to do. I was caught up in all manner of work in church and school ministry in the name of God. I put the work of God before God Himself. Crazy right? Don’t get me wrong, I did this with a clean heart. Problem is I was not stopping to ask what this call of salvation is about or what He expected me to do. Working this way really made me get tired as I was a jack of all trades.
TRUTH: We are not called to service but to love Him and others, within His perfect will for our own individual lives. Our first call is to love,Matthew 22:36-40. Don’t get me wrong God enjoys our service but what is service to Him if we don’t love one another or worse Him? Service becomes a natural thing to do when you do it out of love and not obligation. Secondly, we are not called to do everything but a specific task that is God’s perfect will for our lives. In this task the grace and anointing of the Lord is so sufficient that we will never tire or even give up.
Salvation has been the hardest most painful journey I have had to undertake. I am not always happy with what I have to loose in the process. It’s as if when I said yes to Him all known troubles to man came running at me. It’s quite unpleasant. And then ironically all you see are happy people having fun and your life seems boring. If I however was to go back in time I would still make the same decision all over again just this time I would be more obedient so that the journey runs smoothly.
You see when I said yes to Jesus I said yes to the love of my eternal life. The love I have for Him and Him for me through it all, has kept me focused on pursuing Him. I pursue Him as a lover would another. What really is hard to do for the love of your life? It is only my pleasure to do so. Each day I get excited when I think soon when I finish this race I will get to be in His presence forever as I gaze and worship His awesomeness. This journey has really been the pursuit of love for me, what about you?