I, like a lot of you, grew up in church. It was the same church that my dad went to, my aunts, my grandmother, and about half of Wrightsville attended. Most of the weddings, church suppers, Christmas eve services, funerals, family activities, and even the Boys Scouts met there. We even had an evangelist come once a year to stir up the spiritual fire. That fire always seemed to burn out a few weeks after the evangelist left town.
Not being a Christian then (I didn’t get saved until I was 16 years old), I saw everything through a set of eyes that reflected the world’s standards. I didn’t have spiritual eyes that could see everything through the lens of Christ. The one thing I remember from those years of growing up in church was catechism class.
Pastor Wilson met with a dozen of us 6th graders every Saturday morning for about 6 weeks. Now, I don’t remember the particulars, but I do remember Pastor Wilson emphasized: “None of these facts matter if you can’t back them up with Scripture. Scripture is God’s Word given to man.” For a dumb 6th grader who knew little about the Bible, those words would have a great impact on me later in life.
I do not believe that the Apostle Peter ever had to go to catechism class, but he learned the same truth which I learned on those Saturday mornings. Peter wrote in I Peter 3:15, But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. As Pastor Wilson would say, everything we believe, we need to be able to back up with Scripture.
Growing up in the church, I had a lot of friends who learned the same songs that I did, who heard the same Sunday School lessons and attended the same youth group as I did, but never asked the questions: “Why did Jesus die on the cross for their sins? Is Jesus God? Why are the Scriptures the only source of truth that can provide hope for Christians everywhere?”
I am reminded of Pastor Wilson’ words constantly. Just this week I was reading about a church in Florida which is for “Exvangelicals.” This is a church with all of the trappings of an evangelical church, without the presence of someone “telling” you what to believe. If you have a problem with hell, fine, this is the church for you! Tired of people telling you what the Bible says about sexuality? Then settle in, because you have come to the right place.
just act like one; you don’t have to believe like one
Sadly, this movement is spreading throughout the country. It reminds me of those friends that I grew up with in church. They believed that if you want to be a Christian, just act like a Christian; you don’t have to believe like a Christian. Acts 17:11 says: Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Remember, it is essential that the Scriptures always be our source of Truth. Gee, I wish we would have had some Bereans in the church that I grew up in!