In the South, you went to church. I understand that this is changing to a degree these days.
Many people, even those who call themselves Christians, have begun to see worship on the
Sabbath as somewhat optional. If there is something better to do, or a kid’s sporting event,
many just skip out on worship. However, when I was growing up in the deep south, this
didn’t happen. You went to church.
Sure, there were many people who didn’t go to church then. That only made me feel all the better. I looked at them in much the same way that the Pharisee looked at the publican in the temple. I said, “Oh, God. Thank you that I am not like those people. They never go to church. I go every Sunday. Some are out drinking, and doing drugs, and having sex before marriage. Thank you that I am holy.” What a joke! I was not holy. I went to church because my parents went every Sunday. And I enjoyed it because I got to see friends. And it made me feel a little better and it certainly stroked my pride.
In truth, I had no relationship with Jesus. I did not understand that righteousness comes from being born again. I had said a prayer, and now thought I could go and repeatedly ask God to forgive me, and I could be repeatedly made righteous and have heaven. All I wanted was heaven and not hell. Soon enough my sinful nature would take over. My sinful desires overpowered my fears and I began to engage in all types of sinful behaviors that I’d once self-righteously condemned. Sure, I would ask for forgiveness for what I knew was wrong, but I was not really sorry for my sins. I just wanted to get out from under God’s judgment, while still being able to engage in my sins.
That all changed one day when I was in college. Sitting in my easy chair in the living room of a house I shared with a couple of other students, I was suddenly struck by a sense of God amazing mercy and grace in my life. I looked back on many of the things that I had done, stupid things, and wondered how it was that I was still alive. I looked at the rebellious things that I had done, and I wondered why God had not destroyed me already. And it was at this time that I truly came to know God in my heart. It was at this time that I repented of my sins and turned to Jesus Christ. Did I become perfect? Absolutely not! I’m still not. But, from that day I began seeking after Christ out of love for Him and gratitude for His saving work. On that day my heart was changed. I went from being a “good” church going kid who was going to Hell, to being a born-again believer who will live with God forever.
From “Good Church Going Kid” to Born Again Christian - Rev. Jim Shaw II