Losing My Religion

by

Contributed by Chad Seidler, Director of Ministry & Assistant to the Lead Pastor at Image Church

We’re 3 weeks into “Challenge 77/In HIM” at Image Church.  For those of you that have committed to the Challenge and have been consistent in the Word and in prayer…I commend you.  It’s been a busy few weeks for me and my family, but we’ve made the challenge a priority, and I can already see how it is stretching us.

I have really seen this in the two weeks of our “In HIM” study in our Stafford POD.  Since we’ve recently moved, this is a new POD for us, and I already enjoy the relationships we are building and the lively, healthy discussion of God’s Word.  So far, we’ve looked into the first part of Ephesians 1 to explore our Identity and Worth in Jesus Christ.  Our discussion on Identity spurred some great conversation, especially as a few in our group spoke in detail about how they converted to Christianity.

This got me thinking about myself.  I can’t say that I ever “converted” to Christianity.  I grew up with a healthy Christian heritage, lived in a strong Christian home, attended church religiously, and went to Christian grade school and college.  My life has always been surrounded by Christianity.  Although it was has always been around me and all that I have ever known, this in no way constituted a personal relationship with Christ.  I can remember going forward to say a salvation prayer as a five-year old, but there wasn’t life change.  To be honest, I can’t pinpoint an exact moment when I gave my life to Christ and began living as a life changed by Him.  I truly believe that my experience took place over the course of a few years.

You see, I believe that I had to “deconvert” prior to life change in Christ.  Don’t put words in my mouth…I didn’t deconvert and become an atheist, as I have unfortunately seen many of my friends throughout the years do.  Instead of deconverting from Christianity, I did so from Churchianity.  (Yes, I know it’s not a word, but if Rhody can talk about his “amazingness,” I can certainly make-up my own word.)

This deconversion from Churchianity has been difficult for me.  For years, much of the Biblical foundation and principles that I was being taught was also heavily weighted with the legalistic opinions or personal beliefs of others.  I’ve had to unlearn much of this opinionated clutter and dig deep in God’s Word to solidify what was Truth and what was not.  This has been extremely healthy for me, but it’s taken some time.  In fact, it continues to this day.  I always want to keep that spirit of learning alive within me.

Maybe some of you fill similar shoes.  Maybe you are deconverting from Churchianity and converting to a life centered in Christ.  Maybe some of you are struggling to make this life-changing transition or to even choose to begin the journey.  If I can “borrow” a little from Craig Groeschel, whose book “The Christian Atheist” I am currently reading…  Maybe you believe in Christ, but…

  • You don’t really know Him.
  • You are ashamed of your past.
  • You aren’t sure He loves you.
  • You don’t believe in prayer.
  • You don’t think He’s fair.
  • You won’t forgive others.
  • You don’t think you can change.
  • You still worry all the time.
  • You pursue happiness at any cost.
  • You trust more in money.
  • You don’t share your faith.
  • You don’t believe in His church.

I don’t know where you are.  I know that at some point along the way, I have been in each of these places.  In fact, I still struggle with some of these thoughts.  The big one for me is my past.  It’s hard for me to fathom that God desires to use me and my past, despite that same past.  However, He takes glory in desiring to use me.  How dare I let myself get in the way!

When I begin to doubt myself or question my ongoing process of deconverting from Churchianity, I turn to Scripture and quickly remind myself of the men that God chose to use to build His Church.  There are reminders everywhere within the Bible.  Take one of the early accounts of the Church in Acts 4:13 – Now when they [the “religious” leaders] saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.  The word “common” (or “ordinary”) that is used here in Acts is the Greek word idiotes.  Translated, the word means “unskilled or untrained.”  (Does the word look familiar to you?  From it, we derive the English word “idiot.”)

There…I can finally call myself an idiot and be proud of it!

Here’s the point – Peter and John had experienced Jesus.  That was there credential; they weren’t educated or trained.  Christ chose to call a group of idiots – tax collectors, fishermen, and revolutionaries – to lead the way in starting and carrying out the mission of the Church.  And that mission is simple – to love God, love people, and be & make disciples.

Deconversion has been good for me.  It has allowed me to experience Christ and His true mission for me.  I’m proud to be an idiot!

Advertisements

%d bloggers like this: