As I grew into a teen and young adult, I assumed that if I followed the rules as the church and my surroundings had taught me, then I would become a good Christian. The focus was always about what I should not be doing and it seemed as if my life was surrounded by that. I don’t remember hearing much preaching about listening and following the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to help me do what is right.
As I got older, even into marriage, I continued striving to please God. Although I read very little Scripture at the time, I could never find in the Bible all the rules that I had been brought up to abide by. I had just assumed that if the Christians around me were telling me what I should and should not do, then it had to be correct. I had no idea what it meant to have a relationship with God, how to talk to Him, and how to listen to the Holy Spirit.
Privately, I had no idea why I should not be drinking, going to movies, listening to certain music, wearing jeans to church, etc. I did not feel that all of these things were wrong in and of themselves, and I started to search for answers in the very place that all Christians should be searching. And that is God’s Word. As I started looking more into the Scriptures, I began to understand that it is not about trying harder and looking good, but it’s about loving God with all your heart and having a relationship with Him. As I grew closer to God, and was sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, I started to shed certain things in my life. In some circumstances, I was hardly noticing that I was losing the desire for them at all. There were priorities in my life that were not biblically wrong, but they had become idols. These idols took my time away from God. As I continued to shed these things, my desire to draw closer to God continued to grow. I started to realize that what I was learning through my relationship with Christ was not lining up with what my church had been teaching me over the years.
I decided to set aside my pride and asked myself this question: Could the beliefs that I have been taught all of these years possibly be wrong?
I began to look around me and realized I was on the cruise ship of Christianity. As long as I did what everyone else expected of me, then things would be calm and cruise along nicely. Instead of seeking my validation from where it should come from—and that is God himself—I was looking to receive my validation from those around me. I was living a poser’s life. I was abiding by the rules, but inside I was struggling. I was not reading my Bible or seeking a relationship with Christ and was clearly living what Isaiah 29:13 says: “The Lord says: ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.’”
As I look back on these years, I realize that I was right where the enemy wanted me. I was saved and going to heaven, but I was not looking for a relationship with God. It is so hard to explain this life of complacency that I lived. I now know that something much worse was happening to me. I was so consumed with being a good person on the surface that I never realized that I was missing out on an intimate relationship with Christ. Satan does not want Christians to have a relationship with Christ and to be on fire for the Lord, because we then become dangerous.