The Chronicles of a Church Kid: To be or not to be — A Wannabe
My confession: I was not proud of my testimony.
Testimony is integral in our lives as Christians, for as Paul wrote to the Corinthians: we are “letters from Christ” who are “written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Corinthians 3:1–3). We, who has been enabled and chose to believe, are known and read by those who are yet to believe.
Every Christian has his own share of story about encountering Jesus Christ. And I believe, majority of proclaimed stories on the pulpit are of those about radical changes.
What a Wannabe.
I struggled a lot when I think about my own testimony. Most of my friends have that 180º turnaround stories almost commonly patterned with each other: they tell details about who they were B.C. (Before Christ), then their story climax with their glorious and humbling encounter with Jesus, and then they end with the transformation God did in them W.C. (With Christ). But I don’t have that kind of testimony.
Stories as such are amazing to hear because there’s a drastic change from one condition to a completely different condition. It’s almost like magic, quite unbelievable. In fact, I had desires of wanting to have stories like theirs. Funny, though, I thought a couple of times if God will ever permit me to backslide — not that I wanted it because that’d be awfully scary, I only wondered if He would allow that to happen in my life. All just so I had a story to tell.
I was religiously active in ministries: participating then assisting teachers in children’s ministry, enjoyed engaging my energies and talents in dancing and singing through tambourine ministry and children’s choir. But I only came to truly understanding what Jesus Christ did for me during my teenage years in high school.
My testimony was not grand enough, I thought, for a 5-minute testimony on a pulpit. To be frank, I think it’s because its likeness is not the most commonly shared story during a church service. I must be clear though, I do understand why it is what it is. I mean, church kids are of minority in the whole population of a local church. Majority is composed of converts, and the church’s purpose is to resonate the Gospel to people who are not yet ‘in’ the church. So yeah. Anyway, going back. I had no visions or dreams of encountering Jesus speaking to me, telling me to come to Him in an audible voice. There was no specific sermon that struck me to the core that led me to decide in following Him.
“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.”
This morning I got to attend a service in situated in Mandaluyong, an hour and a quarter away from our house. Before the preacher came up to deliver the sermon, a man was invited on the pulpit to shortly share a testimony to the congregation. This man introduced himself as Pastor Kiks, or Kiko. He’s young, maybe late 20s going 30s, donned a light blue polo shirt with a pair of light brown pants, and he wore a pair of glasses with a dark frame. Ps. Kiks stood and paced, left to right then right to left, passionately told the congregation of his beginnings and the ministry he’s joined with in Tacloban.
I was listening all throughout. But there came a part of his testimony that had me smiling with so much joy: I was a church kid, I grew up in this church and participated actively in Sunday School for children’s because they gave free cookies. But I only understood about Jesus until I was in High School. … I may not be a part of your church here today but the seeds sown in me when I was a child while I was here were a part of the greater work that God is enabling me to do in Tacloban.*
It was an affirmation. Many of my friends would tell me I am blessed because my childhood was good. I smirk at it because to me it was like almost a competition, the most dramatic conversion story is the best. But I am foolish for not being grateful or even appreciative enough for what God has gifted me: a Christian family since birth.
Big Sin or Small Sin
Indeed, I have not walked in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers when I was young. And maybe the ‘worst sins’ I consider to have done — such as cursing my Mom because she punished me when I disobeyed, lying for little things, and lustful thoughts — won’t amount to the ‘worst sins’ that others consider. But sins to God, small or big, are altogether sins.
So I absolutely need to learn in choosing to appreciate the fact that I am not a convert. And yet, I was a sinner saved by Jesus in His grace through faith. I have been gifted with a community of people who nurtured my understanding while young until I came to fully grasping the knowledge that I have a great need of the King and Saviour in my life.
Being changed of bad character, being saved from failures, and being teachable of making right the wrongs are miracles that only Jesus can completely do in one’s life through the Holy Spirit. No one else, not even me to myself.
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”
Testimonies are not ours.
Testimonies are about Jesus Christ, they are about what He has done and who He is. It is not about my experience or my thoughts alone but it is ultimately about what God has revealed to me. So I realize, there’s no wisdom, not even a bit of it, in comparing my story to others.
Christianity is not about me nor my story. Actually, I was graced with a generous invitation to be a part of His story like everyone else.
“Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant — not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
2 Corinthians 3:4–6
God is sovereign enough to allow people be as He intended each of us to be — according to His will. We may not know why He allowed things in our lives as they are but we can be rest assured that His plan is good and perfect, He desires to lavish us with His love, to prosper and not to harm us, to give us hope and a future. The Father calls us, day after day after day, to be with Him so we may experience His fulness even bit by bit.
As the first entry on my series, I thought of speaking about “Testimonies” since it is the main struggle I have as a church kid and it is the primary motivation of why I decided to start this. If you are one like me, you are very much welcome to give your input or even share your thought and/or experiences about the topic. Also, it feels awesome to accomplish a deadline one has set for himself! ‘Til next week! :)
*This statement is not exactly, as in word by word, Pastor Kiko’s testimony but generally the thought of it. I also included that parts of what I remembered while he told his story.