What I Know Now: Five Things I’d Share with My Younger, New Christian Self
When I began my new Christian journey, I was ALL in. Hungry for the Lord. Anxious to get it “right” and trusting others to lead me. I wouldn’t take a nickel for the journey, but knowing what I know now, here’s the advice I’d give to my younger, new Christian self.
1. Trust Yourself and Your Intuition. The same instinct that guided you through your wilderness is also there to guide you through your Promised Land. People are people, flawed and fragile. Don’t allow anyone to make you discount or dismiss what you feel because you’re in the “Lord’s house”. Trust in the Lord and trust what the Lord gave you to work with. Trust your gut.
2. Focus on Being God’s, Not on Being Good. Try as you might to get it together on your own, you don’t have the ability. If you did, you wouldn’t need Jesus! Now would you? Don’t allow the pretense of others around you to make you feel like a moral or spiritual failure. The reality is you don’t have it together and neither do they. Focus on knowing God. Study. Pray. Listen. Spend your time developing a relationship with God. It is then and only then, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, that your life will begin to be transformed. Remember, you are on a spiritual journey and are transformed by renewing your thinking. Transformation is a process. You haven’t arrived at a spiritual destination. Church is only a means to the end. The end? An intimate relationship with the God of the universe.
3. Questions are not Doubts, You Have Every Right to be a Thinking Person of Faith. God has not called us to blind faith. In fact, God calls us into a reasoning relationship (Isa. 1). We are advised to try the spirit by the spirit to see if it is of God (1 John 4). Questioning what you hear and/or read does not make you faithless. In fact, it is the gateway to greater faith. If the leadership is bothered by your questions, it’s probably time to move on. Read your Bible. Pray for revelation. Listen to other preachers and teachers. No one person knows it all. Think through your faith. Your spiritual rebirth did not negate your intellectual ability.
4. Follow the Lord, Not Your Leader. We would all like to believe that our Pastor or spiritual leader is leading us righteously. However, as I mentioned in #2, this is a journey. If there is no evidence of their preaching showing up in their practice, you might consider moving on. What do I mean? Do they have a servant spirit or expect to be served? Do they teach tithing but not give? Do they gossip as much as the congregation? Do they admit and/or apologize when they are wrong? Do they treat others well? The list could go on, but you know what I mean. Once again, honor your intuition. Trust your gut. If you want to grow, you need mature spiritual leadership. You can’t follow someone where they aren’t going.
5. Walking in the Spirit is Not a Mystery. Don’t spend your time waiting for some magical, ethereal experience to overtake you. Don’t’ expect to see white lights and the shadow of a halo when you look in the mirror. Make a decision. Walk in the spirit. Day-by-day. One foot in front of the other. No matter where you go, choose to do the righteous thing. Even when no one’s looking. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Let your yea be yea. Let your nay be nay. Let your love be genuine. Forgive always. If you do these things, my friend, you are walking in the spirit.
These are the things you don't learn in new members class and Bible study. These are truths not told.