In a recent interview I was asked, “How did you come to trust Christ?” My answer was even shocking to myself: “Actually, I have to admit that I do not trust Christ much of the time. I have found that oftentimes Jesus asks more of me than I am willing to give him.”
Now, I think I know what they were asking me: “When did you get saved?” But my heresy runs deep and I have a hard time understanding that question anymore. In my tradition it is common for people to “get saved” many times in their lives. Usually it first happens in Sunday School as a child, then again at youth camp, then again the next year at youth camp, then again the next year of youth camp . . . and perhaps even again when you get a family of your own and “start taking faith seriously.”
Instead, I can’t help but think to myself “When am I not being saved?” This journey with Jesus means I am constantly being saved . . . saved from myself, from my selfishness and complete disregard for the poor, broken-hearted and annoying. I see salvation as a process, not a moment. It is an ongoing and confusing journey of confidence and self-doubt, arrogance and divine-doubt. It is not in the past tense but always in the present.
My faith is not in a past moment of emotion with every eye closed and every head bowed, but it is “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6)
So if I am honest with myself (something I truly hate to do), I admit I often have a profound disbelief in Christ.That is, if I can stop creating the fake self I like to parade around on Facebook and at church just long enough to get a glimpse of the true me, I see a life of disbelief and a head filled with “belief.” But the Bible does not allow for belief to be mental assent.
If you have come to the conclusion that Christ has been raised from the dead but your everyday, walking-around-town life is not a source of grace and a place of resurrection for the people and communities around you, the Bible does not call that “belief” it calls that “disbelief” at best, “hypocrisy” at worst.*
So, yes, sometimes I believe in Christ. And when I look back on those moments I am grateful to see him at work in my life. But no, most of the time, I do not trust in Jesus. Most of the time my life looks no different than the atheist and agnostic.
And I have a feeling that by my willingness to admit that, I am being saved yet again.
*Similar to Rollins’ notion that many Christians don’t believe in the resurrection (see here — from 6min–8min).