(Brady Sharp is a very smart cookie. When he’s not blogging at www.bradysharp.wordpress.com, he’s encouraging college students to walk more closely with Jesus Christ. Enjoy what he has to say to you all today, it might just change your life.)
Sandwich Christianity (with just the bread)
I have been working in and with churches for 13 years now. I have worked with children, youth, college, adults, senior adults and several other groupings. I have crossed several of my own life stages in that time (including turning 30). But no matter what church, or which Christians I talk to, there seems to be a gaping hole in the middle of “being a Christian.” I know this as well as anyone since I had the same issue.
For me, I sat in the gym at the church camp in the middle of nowhere in the panhandle of Texas. As a ten year old I had large dreams. My dreams consisted of playing on the swings immediately following the evening service, and meeting up with my friends for a run to the concession stand for beef jerky (still a favorite). My world was small and so was I. But Monday night, the first night of camp, was different that year. That year it hit me like a ton of bricks. I sat in my seat thinking of what happened to my parents and my family if I lost them. I thought of them proceeding to heaven. I didn’t know about me. I had thought that before, but that night it all clicked. There was nothing I could do to make me join them. I wasn’t going to manage to sneak into heaven, nor did I have enough Mario Coins (I thought in these terms since NES had recently debuted) to make the leap.
That night I trusted Christ. I realized He was it. He was not only the best Hope for me to be with my family and God in heaven, but He was also the Only Hope for me. It was incredible. My future with God was settled…now what?
What you just read started 9 years of a helpless and hopeless theological struggle for me. I entered what most redeemed people enter…Christianity that has sure bookends: the moment of surrender and security after death. The problem was and is, that for most people there is a lot of life in between those markers.
It took a while and several Godly people in my life for me to understand that the Gospel of Christ wasn’t just for that night in June to calm my fears, nor was it for the day approaching when I exit life to also calm my fears. The Gospel, just like its Author, was and IS and is to come. Christ saved me for NOW as well. That is what Paul means when he says, “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6) The Gospel has to be worked out in the details–what is meant by, “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).
For nine difficult years I thought Christianity meant that I was saved to go to heaven and I better avoid sin like Hell. I thought Christ was hoping that, now saved, I wouldn’t sin. He was and is in the process of redeeming me from the sin that is held, buried deeper than the acts. He is saving me. And if I am to have any peace about a salvation that is already mine, I better quit the fear and get on board.
It’s why I submit myself to others—vulnerability. I put myself in a place where they can see the me that lurks in the shadows so they can bring truth and light to dark places. I used to fear others seeing my mistakes. I spent nine years in that fear. It is a dungeon darker than the pangs of rebuke. Don’t let fear and pride stunt a freedom that is greater than the pain of being discovered. Proverbs 9:8-9; 12:1; 2 Peter 1:3-10