I grew up in a christian home, always attended every Sunday, weekday and special event service, was a choir member, drama member, and even president of our youth group at one point. I grew up how any of us would want our kids to grow up, in a good church, with a good pastor and with good friends from christian homes all around.
And that makes me worry for my friends and myself. You see, I always wondered about all those who accepted Christ and entered my world. They all experienced an intense conversion. Their devotion and desire for God was whole-hearted and energetic. See, I didn't understand the sin that had infected their lives, I never experienced it. I never really saw anything truly sinful. I had never had that conversion experience.
Sure, when I was a pre-teen, I pledged my life to Christ. It was heartfelt. It was genuine, and a bit emotional. But I couldn't say that I ever had that full realization of a forgiveness of sin. Really what sin was there in my life at that point? Yes, sin is sin. But arguing with my brother didn't quite compare to the intense offenses against God that occur in our world today.
So really, I realized one day that there was complacency in my group of friends - we didn't truly appreciate the salvation that Christ was offering us. We didn't appreciate the environment of security and wholesomeness that we were priviledged to have grown up in. The fact was we had never known anything else.
In Luke 7:41-47, Jesus talks about two men whose debts are forgiven - one owed a small amount and the other a large amount and asks who appreciated the forgiveness of debt more?
The one with the larger debt is the answer and Jesus then says: "her many sins have been forgiven - for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." It's a warning to those like me.
Someone who knows that they came out of the depths of sin to salvation, are more merciful to other sinners. They've been there, and know first hand the changing power of forgiveness and salvation. They're usually less likely to judge and more likely to love and be-friend a sinner emerging from their sin.
Their experience is intense and life altering, like that of Paul on the road to Damascus. It spurs a devotion and appreciation of Jesus, and an intense love for the God of mercy and his commandment to love others as Christ loves them.
My story is more the story of the good son, who is always obedient and faithful, but who doesn't realize or appreciate the gift that he has and has to have it pointed out to him. Who fails to show love and mercy to his prodigal brother because he doesn't truly understand forgiveness and unconditional love.
It's the danger of growing up christian. One that had to be brought to my attention once. And while reading through Luke recently, I was reminded of it.