I see a division that develops between people who were ‘raised in the church’ and people who found their Savior through a life of sinfulness. I’ve seen both sides view the other with a little longing for the other’s kind of testimony. The converted wish they could have avoided the mistakes they made in the absence of God and the ‘Christian raised’ people wish they could find the passion for Jesus they see in the other group.
People who were raised in church know all about God. They were raised with stories of His abilities and what He is. They learned to identify with God the way their parents or church elders did. They see God as a set of stories and rules that should be followed because that’s what God said. They see God as a legalistic God with requirements for the proper Christian life. The problem surfaces where the child either follows all of the rules then grows up to become even more legalistic (un-relatable to the fallen) or fails in following all of the rules and has no idea how to walk in redemption (loved by God regardless). Neither is spiritually healthy. This lawful view of God pushes those who came to the Lord broken away from church communities.
The people who find their Savior in their depravity have to deal with an initial onslaught of shame. From that shame, and proper knowledge of who God is, they find relationship with The Father. They can identify with His love and how a broken rule only magnifies His grace. They wish there wasn’t a resume of sin in their past because they fail to see what God was doing in their life. He has made them relatable and accepting of the lost and broken. The passion found in true relationship scares those who live on bible stories and rule following.
We see this exact premise play out in the Bible as well. The Jews were called by God to live in the law as they awaited the Messiah to come and rule over the earth. They became too focused on the law and missed the relationship with God and the love that was continually poured out for them. When Jesus came to reconcile the people and was rejected by the ‘law focused Jews’, Jesus came to Saul (Paul) and sent him to preach the Gospel to the gentiles. The gentiles then found God in there depravity and saw their need for a Savior in Jesus. They became the church that focused on the need for Jesus and the love of God over laws.
Next time you pick up the word of God and see the disciples of Jesus trying to speak into the Jews and trying to explain what the plan of God looks like in Jesus, realize this divide still exists today in the church. Although it isn’t a battle, it does cause division. But it doesn’t have to! We should see this as the opportunity for the ‘church raised’ to accept all who come into the community of Jesus, and for the passion found in relationship to spur their growth based on their repeated stories. The people in relationship should have patience as habitual views of a ruler God are replaced with an awareness of His steadfast acceptance and love. It should also serve as a lesson to parents to teach their children to have a real relationship with their Heavenly Father and to be an example to them of what that kind of relationship looks like in the flesh. Our Heavenly Father did the same for us, God’s earthly example was Jesus Christ.