As I was sitting on the throne earlier today perusing my copy of “Uncle John’s Triumphant 20th Anniversary Bathroom Reader”, I came across this glorious quote:
“There is no more expensive thing than a free gift.” – Michel de Montaigne
As I read that glorious quote, it struck me how true it is when applied to Christianity. Christians love to go on about how salvation is a “free gift” from God. They won’t shut up about it any more than they will about how Christianity allegedly isn’t a religion, but a personal relationship with Jesus.
Assuming for the sake of argument that the Christian God is real and that he is the one true God and that the Bible is his word and is trustworthy (yeah, I know, a highly debatable and extremely improbable proposition given the complete lack of evidence for the existence of God and the many serious problems with the Bible), what does it cost us to believe in and accept God’s free gift of salvation? The short answer is, “EVERYTHING!”
Let’s say that you hear the Gospel message and believe it and you submit to God’s Plan of Salvation (which is http://exchristian.net/exchristian/2002/10/gods-extremely-complex-plan-of.php” extremely complex, btw) and go through the process of accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then what is your salvation going to cost you after the emotional “honeymoon” high of your religious conversion wears off?
Being a Christian is very much like being a drug addict. When you first try a new addictive recreational drug, every time you use it you get a great high and feel fantastic, which keeps you coming back for more. But soon, addiction sets in and using the drug starts becoming an obsession and a need rather than a fun diversion. Everything but getting your next fix begins to fade in importance – job, family, friends, hobbies, etc. – until nothing is left except using the drug and doing whatever is necessary to get your next fix. Drug addiction is a tragedy that frequently robs its victims of everything that had value to them from their jobs and families to their possessions, and then it all too frequently takes their lives as well. In the same way, involvement in Christianity starts out with some wonderful emotional highs that feel fantastic, but then it slowly but surely robs you of everything that makes you valuable and unique as a human being – your mind, your will, and your emotions.
So he (Jesus) answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.
According to Jesus, one of the things we should love God fully with is our minds. But what happens to the mind as a result of religious conversion? It is put in neutral! People don’t convert to Christianity – or any other religion – based on a reasoned, carefully thought-out assessment of the available facts and evidence that exists in favor of or in opposition to a set of religious beliefs. Religious conversions typically take place in an emotionally charged atmosphere after a sermon laced heavily with fear, guilt, and shame (the three things religion thrives on, besides ignorance) has been preached.
Religious conversions generally only occur after the victims have been subjected to substantial amounts of emotional manipulation, and in some cases, abuse. Christians are taught to view their own instincts and “worldly” knowledge (such as the latest scientific findings) with suspicion. Intellectualism is frowned upon and ignorance (scientific and otherwise) is proudly hailed as a virtue. Christians are taught that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10) and that they should trust in the Lord and lean not on their own understanding (Proverbs 3:5), and things just go downhill from there. Trusting in Jesus may sound great, but what about trust and belief in oneself? The self is subordinate to “God’s will” in Christian teaching… Christians coming out of the cult after years of brainwashing and indoctrination frequently don’t know themselves or how to trust and believe in themselves.
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.”
In Christianity, the individual will is subordinate to the will of God. Millions of Christians pray daily for God’s will to be done in their lives. But what about their own will? What about the individual’s right to make their own decisions about their own lives? That doesn’t concern devout Christians because they have been taught that they are not their own, that they have been bought with a price, that being the Blood of Jesus. (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Christians are taught in Romans 12:1-2 to offer their bodies as a living sacrifice and to renew their minds and not be conformed to the world. And what about Galatians 2:20:
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
A committed Christian will have no concern for their own will and they will constantly be trying to figure out what God’s will is, which is a very unhealthy state of affairs since God is nonexistent and is therefore silent. Christians coming out of the cult frequently have issues trusting themselves and making their own decisions about their own lives.
Emotional issues can run deep for Christians and for those coming out of the cult. Christians – especially those involved in the Charismatic “health and wealth” teachings – can lack trust in their own emotions. Christians caught up in those teachings expect to live victoriously in Christ. They expect to be “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37) and for them anything negative comes from the devil. Of course, being taught that you are a terrible sinner who deserves to burn in hell forever can cause emotional issues too. When you believe that your righteous acts are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), how can you feel good about yourself? How can you trust yourself?
As should be obvious, this wonderful-sounding “free gift” can end up costing a great deal! This is one offer you can and should refuse!