"I Wasn't Always a Christian"
And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:5)
While I was working on my doctorate at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, a classmate told us a story about his work as a youth pastor. He was leading a weekend youth retreat and had a group of about 20 youth and adults doing various mission projects in and around the city where they lived. Each night, they would return to the church to eat and sleep. As he and another adult were returning to the church with a small group of youth, it started to rain heavily. They ran back to the church where they quickly realized they were locked out. Every door to the church was locked and they did not have a key. They would have to wait in the rain until someone showed up with a key.
The other adult who was with our friend told the group to turn around and look the other way. After about 10 or 15 seconds he said okay and everyone turned back around and the door was open. As they rushed in out of the rain, our friend gave him a funny look and the guy said to him, "I wasn't always a Christian."
It turns out when he was younger, he and some buddies got really good at getting into places they weren't supposed to. He was at a youth retreat himself when he experienced God calling him to a different path and accepted God's forgiveness for all he had done. From that point on he was a new person. Fortunately, in that moment locked out of the church, he still had some of his old skills.
I think of that story when memories come back of times when I "wasn't always a Christian." It pains me to think of the times I did not treat others as I want to be treated or acted in ways that were selfish and hurtful. I wish I could go back in time and do better, but I know I cannot.
Because time travel is not an option, I have to trust and believe in the power of forgiveness and God's ability to make all things new. I am not who I was 10, 20, 30 years ago, and I would like to think my deepening relationship with God has made me a better person. Of course, I still make mistakes and do things I later wish I had not, but I continue to lean on God's love to make me new day after day.
I'm not sure anyone is "always a Christian." We all have our un-Christlike moments and so it is a good thing God's love is so strong and that God is able to make all things new. Even us.