16 years ago today, I wrote this in my journal:
Church was good. The pastor preached from 1st Corinthians 1:18-31 and talked about not forgetting why Christ had to die for us and how wonderful the gospel is. I don’t know if it affected anyone. Most of them have been going there for over 20 years, but they seemed bored.
Bible study was cool. We discussed what Jesus said about the last days in Mark 13. Although the teacher is a pre-trib, he agrees that we must be ready for hard times in the future. He compared Christians today with the Jews in Germany in the 1930’s. It’s scary what’s happening to our country. Christians are already being persecuted.
I actually spoke more than anyone else (which is amazing because I was kinda nervous at first). It’s a quiet class. In fact, I don’t think the others really wanted to be there. I pray God will unite me and the teacher and use us to start a spiritual fire there.
God, I want to know you better. Change my heart and convict me if I ever serve you for the wrong motives. I want to worship you and shine your Word wherever I see darkness. I will not fear. Amen.
— March 21st, 1999
Dear Former Self,
Well of course the people at church were bored. That church is mostly older people who, as you said, have been going there for over 20 years. After hearing the same Bible stories over and over again every Sunday, how could they not be bored? It sounds like the pastor knew this and was trying to get people excited about the gospel again, but apparently it didn’t work.
The problem is that no matter how amazing a story is, if you hear it enough times it’s going to lose its luster. Frankly, I don’t know how lifelong parishioners stand it. Maybe the pastor should try telling the story in a different way:
“God is angry with people for being born with a sinful nature and has no choice but to throw them in a lake of fire for eternity. But he wants there to be some people left who can tell him how awesome he is, so he sacrificed himself to himself in order to pay himself the debt that humanity owed him for being born sinful. And only people who believe this story with no evidence get to go to Heaven and tell God how awesome he is forever.”
It’s the same story, but I bet if your pastor told it that way his parishioners wouldn’t be bored anymore.
By the way, anyone who compares modern Christians with Jews in Germany before the holocaust ought to be punched in the face. Hard. You sit there in your Christian church in an overwhelmingly Christian town in a country with Christian leaders and a Christian president, and you actually think you are just years away from the same fate as the Jews in Nazi Germany? Wake up!
Like millions of other Christians, you’ve developed a persecution complex. Just because there is a growing minority of people who disagree with you and want the same rights as you doesn’t mean you are being persecuted. You’re living in a fantasy world so far removed from reality that you actually think a lack of Christian privilege is the same thing as Christian persecution. And you don’t even lack Christian privilege yet!
I think deep down you want to be persecuted. Matthew 5:11 says that when you are persecuted, you are blessed. So when you hear about all the “scary” people out there who believe different things and want to be treated the same, you get to feel sorry for yourself and pretend God is blessing you. But if you were ever really persecuted, you would beg God to make it stop.
— Matt, March 21st, 2015
This is part of an ongoing series called Letters to My Former Self.