Vaccinated against Christianity
During the past few weeks, I’ve been reading What Really Matters by Eugenia Price. Ms. Price didn’t decide to follow Jesus until she was thirty-three years old, even though she’d been raised in a church. When she went off to college she was glad to be free of the religious practices of her mother. She was glad to be free from Christianity and all its trappings. The church she was forced to attend while growing up had repelled her.
It’s a shame that growing up in a church has actually served as a vaccination that prevents many people from following Christ. They have seen Christians being petty and gossiping about other Christians. Even if their own pastor is godly, they hear about abuses of pastoral influence and authority in other churches.
They have seen a lot of inconsistent Christians and know many who use the church as a place to feel important. They see leaders who would rather keep any praise for their acts of service than giving it to God.
Eugenia Price saw all of this. What she did not discern in her church experience was Christ himself. The Christians she met growing up in her church had repelled her. So, when she got to college she made fun of them. She made it clear on campus that she didn’t go to church and asked people not to invite her.
What drew Eugenia Price to faith in Christ?
When she was thirty-three, Ms. Price reluctantly agreed to attend a church service with a very close friend of many years. In a hotel room afterward, her friend waited while Eugenia made her very first leap of faith toward Jesus.
In What Really Matters, Ms. Price explains she was not motivated by the Bible, any church, someone’s explanation of salvation, or a heavenly reward. She says, on p. 14:
…my faith moved — because my attention moved to the Person of Jesus Christ.
at the moment when faith was born to my conscious mind I was convinced of one truth and one truth only: The young man hanging on His cross was all that could be contained of the Almighty God in human form. And by knowing Him, I could know God.
It’s interesting that the Apostle Paul, who could debate doctrine and theology with the best scholars, saw that it was only an encounter with Jesus who drew people to faith.
When I came to you brethren, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom. For I resolved to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2, 1–2, RSV)
Where does Christian faith come from?
Price makes it clear that her faith did not come from human persuasion. Yes, she had a friend she respected who bore witness of what Jesus meant to her and how He had changed her life. But she stresses that we can’t talk people into faith.
It’s not our persuasive speech that makes people decide to follow Jesus.
Price moved toward faith because she believed she could discover God if she could get acquainted with Jesus. She says that Jesus gave her faith Himself when He knew her heart had opened to Him.
Eugenia Price was a writer. She tells the story of her conversion in detail in The Burden is Light. Besides her devotional books, she has written several excellent historical novels. After she became a Christian, her writer heart understood her conversion better when she found this verse:
Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12: 2, KJV)
She considered how an author begins a book on the first page and keeps writing page after page until the book is finished. She recognized that Jesus, the:
divine Author [who began our faith] has kept right at — the way authors have to keep at it, day in and day out, strengthening, editing, refining the faith He began. (p. 15)
Christian faith begins when we are attracted to Jesus Himself and realize that He alone can show us God. Jesus through His Holy Spirit helps us learn more of Him. He gives us our faith. He grows our faith. And He stays with us until our faith on earth becomes sight in Heaven.
All we need is an open heart and a desire to know God.
Jesus will take it from there.
This story is published in Koinonia — stories by Christians to encourage, entertain, and empower you in your faith, food, fitness, family, and fun.