I confess I was scared into becoming a Christian.—
As a little kid, I heard about hell in church, and I knew I didn't want to go there.
I had a Grandma who loved Jesus, the Bible, and who demonstrated every possible Christian virtue at home and to her neighbors. But wanting to be like my Grandma (which I did) wasn't my overwhelming concern regarding a relationship with God. Every night before I went to bed at the end of my prayers I would always add, "And please God, let me go to heaven when I die and not to hell."
Though we went to church every Sunday, that prayer tormented me until a Good News Bible Club teacher explained if you trusted Jesus as your Savior, you didn't need to worry about going to hell. Jesus' death on the cross paid for the sin that sent people to hell, and by accepting Him, by asking him to be my Savior, I wouldn't ever need to worry about it. I did ask Jesus to save me and never prayed that fearful prayer again.
What this has to do with Lent
As I was putting together the communications for Lent I realized the current public image of Christianity is a happy, happy one complete with the promise that if you become a Christian, life will always go well for you. Even those who don't subscribe to the crassness of the health and wealth gospel (if you give God money He will give you back much more), are shocked if someone in the family gets sick or loses their job. Any disappointment with what we think God owes us provides grounds for walking away from the faith or at least is a justification to be mad at God.
Lent gives us a corrective to that view. Lent reminds us that there are things about the Christian life that are difficult and costly. It challenges us to say “no” to ourselves in minor areas of life to strengthen our spiritual muscles for larger challenges. [Read more...]