By Veralyn Williams
Like a lot of children who come from Christian families, growing up I spent every Sunday morning in church. My grandmother belonged to a Baptist church and therefore– so did my sister and I. Week after week we sat in the same pew, me and my sister separated by my grandmother, in an effort to prevent us from acting up. And I remember longing for the minute they’d call all the kids up to the altar, so we can line up- before heading downstairs for Sunday school.
It wasn’t until I was about 14 years old that I really enjoyed going to church. And I felt that– “the preacher is talking to me” –tingle. And one day as the Pastor was preaching- I heard him say what, at that point, I’d heard him say a thousand times: “If you feel God in your heart and you need a church home today. Please come forward”… And on this day tears started rolling down my face. I rose to my feet, scoot past my grandmother, and somehow I was at the altar. That was the moment for me when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and savior.
Two years later I was confirmed in a Methodist church, and since then I have taken Holy Communion for the forgiveness of my sins- more times than I can count. But as I’ve gotten older (I’m 26 now), there are two things I now question:
One is going to church every Sunday. Lately it feels like going to church for me, is slipping back to the old routine of my childhood. When I go- I get there right before church starts and as soon as the benediction is over- I’m out. No I am not a part of any of the church committees. I’m not on the choir. And I can’t ever make Wednesday bible study. So instead I started reading the bible at home (googling any questions I have). And honestly these days I feel closest to Jesus while I’m cleaning the house, listening to gospel music. I hear words like the ones in Alabaster Box by Cece Wines comes on…
You weren’t there / The night Jesus found me/ You did not feel what I felt when he wrapped his loving arms around me /… You don’t know the cost of my praise / You don’t know the cost of the oil in my alabaster box
…and I am moved to stop whatever I’m doing. I praise God and I am reminded of all the reasons my goal is to emulate Jesus.
So in all seriousness- If I can get a prayer group going, I think the only time I’ll be at church is during the holidays: New Years, Easter, Mother/Father’s day, and Christmas.
Another thing I question is the judgment of other christens. I.e.: the people I’m supposed to be fellowshipping with in church. The main reason why I use Jesus as my compass in life is because He loved everyone and He always did what was right- even if it went against what the religious leaders, the Pharisees, were preaching at the time.
A perfect example of this is in Mark, when Jesus goes against the belief that the Sabbath is a holy day of rest and decided to heal a man- against the warnings of the Pharisees.
Mark 3:4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. (Also see Matthew 12:1-14)
Should things be different today? Should we blindly follow religious teachings without making allowances for the realities of today? I say no, but not every Christian would agree- at least not the ones that disown their children after they come out as gay. Or the ones that choose to only teach abstinence education to their kids- instead of including comprehensive, life-saving sex ed. Personally I think it’s great teach young people why they should wait till marriage to have sex, that’s what Jesus would do. But I believe He would also tell them that using a condom prevents the transmission of STD’s, HIV, and pregnancy. Especially in an age where most teens don’t wait.
I titled this piece “Confused Christian” not because I am confused about what I am- I know I am a Christian. But I am confused about what being a Christian means in 2012. Am I only a Christian if I go to church and follow the laws of the bible? And who determines what interpretation is the right one?
Can’t I just- in all things- ask: What would Jesus do?
Veralyn Williams is a Multimedia Freelance Journalist currently working in New York City. She has worked for WNYC Radio, Bedsider.org, Black Enterprise, BronxNet Television, SexReally.com,TurnstyleNews.org and The Museum for African Art. Her independent work is featured on her website VeralynMedia.com.