This post is the first in a series titled “Thoughts from a Recovering Fundamentalist – Grace vs. Legalism”. Please feel free to comment especially if you’ve ever experienced something similar.
Today I was given a new label “Recovering Fundamentalist”. We recently changed churches in the last year, from a non-denominational, but very traditional church to a more modern church. Our previous church was still very much like what my husband and I grew up in, though we did feel rather rebellious attending a non-denominational church, with an elder board, of all things. We were veering away from what was ‘right’.
God grew us there though and taught us about His Sovereignty, His Grace, His choosing us, and how ultimately is is all done for the Glory of the Father. EVERYTHING. We grew up with ‘Why did Christ die on the cross? Because He loved us!’ And, yes, that’s true, but the bigger answer to the ‘why’ is because of the Glory of the Father. I still don’t quite understand, but just rehearsing this thought brings tears to my eyes and makes me want to fall on my face in humility, awe, and wonder of the God who created me and quickened me to life.
Over the past couple of years we’ve been feeling a need for change, because even though God was fixing the broken teaching we’d been brought up with, there was still something wrong. Very few people, that I could see, were real. We all put on our best clothes and best faces and did church. I never felt as if we went to worship, we just went to say that we went. Prayer requests would be given and I wondered how off axis we’d be rocked if I stood up and asked for prayer. Not for illness but because of sin. I can just hear the crickets now – “Hi, my name is Danielle and I have a problem with anger, impatience, pride, and lust”.
We didn’t act like the broken sinners Jesus had redeemed, but like people who didn’t have any problems.
So we left and started attending this different church. And, for the first time in a really long time, I felt like I could breathe. People were actually excited to be singing! They were excited to worship our King. And to top it off, they were admitting their sin struggles. I had never seen that in all my years of attending church. I’d never known anyone to admit to any sin after they’d been saved.
As beautiful as all of this was it scared me to death because eventually, my sin would have to be revealed and dealt with. (And just so you know, something that has taken me a long time to learn is that Me, Myself, and I, do not a body of believers make.) This admitting my sin thing was completely foreign to me. We had learned to judge others and thank God we weren’t like ‘them’. So, in my mind, if I revealed sin issues, I was putting myself out there to be judged, because isn’t that what ‘good’ Christians do, judge each other? And that thought made me want to crawl out of my skin. It made me weep.
I don’t know much about addiction, but I do know that if you’re addicted to something you keep going back to it. When you try to give it up, your given the label Recovering _______. So, to be labeled a ‘Recovering Fundamentalist’ seems rather accurate. And like any recovering addict there are times that I return to my old habits, the incorrect thought patterns, the pride, the judgement, the sin. I used to thank God that I didn’t have the sin baggage that some people have to deal with. But I wonder if ‘church’ baggage is just as difficult.
But God’s grace is sufficient, isn’t it ? It’s sufficient even for a Recovering Fundamentalist.