Hi everyone. Growing up in church, I’ve always been taught that Jesus loves me and desires for me to know Him. For a while now, though, I’ve had a lot of trouble believing this with any real conviction. From a rational perspective, why should God care about me? I’m a sinful, depraved, sickly human, and rightfully should be worth less in the eyes of God than a mangy, disgusting, flea-bitten dog is in my eyes. What can I possibly offer God? I know the answer: Absolutely nothing. There is nothing I can do for God except as a vessel of the Spirit.
This brings me to the real root of the issue. Growing up as I did in the Pentecostal tradition, I was told that the Spirit was available to be poured out into the lives of all Christians, with a heavy emphasis given to the gift of tongues. I was also inundated with language about “the prompting of the Spirit,” “having a personal relationship with Jesus,” and “hearing the voice of God.” As far as my own story goes, though, I’ve experienced none of this. My story is one of becoming disillusioned with the charismatic movement after attending a church where numerical growth became too great a priority and the community was too shallow, falling into depression, and settling into a place where I hold onto the Christian faith because reason won’t let me discard it and the alternatives seem altogether undesirable. Some days, this faith is the only thing that restrains me from seriously considering suicide.
This brings up the issue of evangelism. Witnessing to others was stressed heavily when I was growing up (not that I ever did much of it, since I had no non-Christian friends and was rather reclusive), and in this case, at least, I know that the teaching was well-grounded in the biblical text. To this day, though, I don’t see how I’m in any way fit to share the gospel; my story holds nothing to promise a fulfilling life, understanding other people (much less those outside the church) is among my weakest areas, and as far as I can gather from the biblical narrative, witnessing is pointless without the Spirit working through me, and I’ve had no indication of such work in my life. This leads me to worry: Am I a tree that is bearing no fruit? Am I good for nothing but to be cut down and thrown to the fire? Has God rejected me?