Today is my rebirthday. Forty years ago on May 14, 1973 in a college dorm room, I prayed to ask God to forgive my sins and come live inside me.
Becoming a Christian was probably the least likely decision I ever expected to make. I was born to parents who were both raised Catholic but never met God. My mom was an atheist to her dying day, and my dad remains an agnostic (perhaps a deist) at age 91. As I grew I adopted their beliefs, and by high school I was a force to be dealt with. I was sure that science would answer all my questions. The idea of God was laughable.
Yet here I was, a freshman at a secular university, praying to “receive Jesus.” What happened?
God came and got me.
What would we think of an army recruiter who got people to sign up for the military by telling them about the free food, free clothing, educational opportunities, and camaraderie, but never mentioned that soldiers also had to discipline themselves, obey orders, and likely go to war where they would be shot at? Not very honest, is it?
Someone considering enlisting needs to consider both the benefits and the costs of being in the military. Of course, no one would be so ignorant, at least when it comes to military service. But what about following Jesus?
Are you a Christian?
Sometimes the answer is obvious. Sometimes it’s not.
If you have a vibrant, intimate relationship with God, where you hear His voice and tell Him your innermost thoughts, where you rely on Him to guide you and strengthen you as you live your life completely entwined with His, loving and serving others… then I’d feel pretty confident agreeing that you are a Christian.
If your claim to faith is based on being born to Christian parents, or into a “Christian” nation, but you never read a Bible or pray, you never go to church (on only on Easter), you have no interest in God whatsoever and are pretty satisfied with that state of affairs, well, you might want to read the fine print on your fire insurance policy (start with Matthew 7:23 or Luke 13:27).
Most of us who call ourselves Christian fall somewhere between these two examples. At some point in our lives, we’ve prayed the “sinner’s prayer” acknowledging our failings and subsequent need for mercy and forgiveness. We own a Bible and read it at times. We go to church, unless there’s a big game on. (If we’re super spiritual, we only skip church if our team is in the playoffs.) We can speak fluent “Christianese.” And we pray for God to help us, especially if life isn’t going our way at the moment. God is in our lives, but is He in charge?