Just recently I read a blog post with the title ‘the day I left Christianity’ the author was a former pastor or church leader who shared his journey or descent in faithlessness, it was a sad story, this fellow shared how he strove to live within the tenets of the Christian faith, prayed, led meetings, but could not recall an answer to prayer, a supernatural experience or a sense of reality in his Christian experience so he concluded that this thing was not working and he decided to leave Christianity.
That night as I lay in bed thinking of what I had read, many thoughts swirled around in my head, I remembered the day I too left Christianity and found Christ, I thought to myself, this fellow is very lucky to have escaped the web called Christianity now all he needs to do is to meet with Jesus Christ.
As I read the comments below the blog post, it became obvious to me that many people were in the same place only that they didn’t have the boldness to throw it all in and walk away, having nowhere else to go.
I was born a ‘Christian,’ grew up in a ‘Christian home, was named, baptized and had my first holy communion according to ‘Christian’ rites, in our home attending Church was mandatory, to miss a service without a reasonable excuse was to invite the wrath of my mother and that included the likelihood of missing your Sunday lunch and nobody wanted to miss any lunch talk less of Sunday’s.
I attended Christian schools up until I left secondary school, learnt the catechism, had my confirmation, was well taught in all the traditions and practices of our denomination, learnt the ten commandments off hand and even during our school days we attended mass regularly. I even joined a catholic boys club where we met with missionaries for fellowship, devotion and sports.
I went off to university, faithful in attending services and regular confessions, I was no different from people from other Christian denominations, and even other religious persuasions in the things we did, the best of us tried to, live right at least not like some others and were faithful to our religious backgrounds but in all these things no one ever told me about Jesus, of course we prayed in his name and mentioned him here and there sometimes in the same breath as Mary and the saints but I didn’t know the fellow he was merely a name to me and as for God, He was that being who was everywhere just waiting to catch you out in something you did wrong, the only way to keep him in check was to go to confessions and carry out whatever penance the confessor imposed on you , hoping that your good deeds outweighed your bad deeds on the day of judgment. The Holy Spirit I knew next to nothing about, I had no idea of who or what He was.
The Devil was a different matter, we are Africans you see, we know about devils, demons and evil spirits, they have been after us since time began, our fathers offered sacrifices to appease their anger and invoked their help to deal with real or perceived enemies. In fact the average African is more terrified of the power of the devil than that of God.
The average African ‘Christian’ is not averse to sneaking off to a local witchdoctor now and then to ‘support’ whatever help God would render.
This was the ‘Christian’ world that I grew in, full of regulations, observances, devotions and completely lacking in the knowledge of the One after whom we named our practices, empty and powerless, long on doctrine and short on practice. By the time I was in my 3rd year in University I had joined a cult group on campus, so I was a practicing ‘Christian’ and a cult member, I would attend our group activities on Friday night surface in Church for confession on Saturday and appear on Sunday for mass and holy communion.
So as I read the blog post I could relate perfectly with the sense of disconnect and understand the confusion or seeming contradictions he expressed particularly when he read the bible but all that changed for me, when I found Christ and left Christianity.
I didn’t find Christ in an ornate sanctuary amidst divine services and elaborate rituals, I found him in the desperation of my heart for help. I mentioned earlier that I joined a cult in university, as a member of this group, I discovered myself trapped in a lifestyle that was destructive, violent and freewheeling, I can’t go into details but it was a lifestyle that was destroying me in every way, academically, mentally, spiritually and morally, I tried to stop the free slide into darkness that I was trapped in but I found out that I was powerless to do so, I would gather my regalia and paraphernalia of cultism and dump them in the trash only to go back and dig them out again.
I was bound by forces and habits I could not break free from, even my physical features were seemingly affected by the darkness within me. The breaking point for me was when after we had embarked on a failed hit against another rival cult, we had been apprehended and spent time in Police custody after which we were subsequently released on bail, before then my mother had discovered Jesus and had been delivered from Christianity, we used to tease her about her new found devotion to God but this particular Sunday we were home on holidays and we attended the new Church she had begun to attend. It was while in the service that morning, the thought came to in my heart ‘if you had died during the hit where would you have gone to?
It was God speaking to me, for the very first time in my life, it couldn’t have been me, it was God, suddenly all my struggles to break out of the trap I found myself in came to a head, deep down in my Sabout him in the bible stories we were taught to make me feel so, that day in my heart I cried out to Jesus, what I said I cannot remember, I know it was non verbal communication but as I prayed, I felt as if I stepped out of darkness into light, a great burden rolled away from my heart, I knew I was free
Did Jesus not say ‘if the son shall set you free you shall be free indeed’?
In the days that followed I had an insatiable appetite to read the bible to know more about Jesus, it was as if I felt him saying to me, ‘follow me’. In the days since then I have made some important discoveries, the most important of which is that Jesus is a living person, I was saved not by saying a prayer or following a creed, I was saved by a person, the man God Jesus Christ. He is not about rituals, dogmas and all the things we have often built around him. He calls us to a life of abandonment to him. He promises to reveal the father to all who follow him. It is impossible for any who follows him not to see a continual expression of his presence many times in miracles and the gifts of his Spirit.
He is real, in the times when I have been tempted to draw back, His presence has been there to chide, comfort, rebuke, encourage and strengthen as the need may be.
Jesus has certainly been very patient with me, like I say to the Lord atimes, only you could have dealt with me the way you have.
Christianity as the world knows it today is built around man and his perception of how God wants to be worshipped, it is a place of power structures, wealth acquisition, influence and control, a high temple of corruption and God abuse, it is a Christ less tabernacle, a place of darkness and despair promising much but delivering little. It is all these because man and not Christ is at its center.
People will always be what they are, fallen creatures in need of redemption, whether in the ‘Christian’ Church or any religious construct, wherever people are in control you will find them very malleable and susceptible to demonic or satanic influence. Think about the fact that the architects of the conspiracy that led to the death of Jesus were the leaders of the temple of religion, supposed custodians of the virtues of integrity, justice and mercy. They were the opponents of everything that Jesus taught, these men where the custodians of the Abrahimic covenant and the law of Moses, they were God’s people at least in name.
Does that seem familiar? I was there before until I met Christ
You too can meet Christ, away from all religious constructs, the lover of your souls says ‘come to me all who labor and are heavy burdened and I will give you rest’. This is His personal invitation to you
All you need do is to surrender to him and put your hands in the hand of the One who died for you providing a way for your sins to be forgiven and for you to be reconciled into the loving arms of a good God.