Being Nice and Being a Christian are Not the Same Thing
Gabrielle, 3rd Congregation
I was born into a Christian family and had went to missionary-funded schools for 10 years of my life – first Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School (PLMGPS), then CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ School (SNGS). However, because I was constantly placed in environments surrounded by Christians, I took these blessings from God for granted. As a result, I was largely ignorant of the truths of the Bible and it hardly occurred to me that these truths would have so much implications on how I would live my life. This was not to say I was badly-behaved in any way at school – I was overall a pretty good student, doing not too bad in school, going to church almost every Sunday, sitting through Sunday School, hardly asleep during sermons but of course, I did all these things without the right intentions. In my mind, though I was hardly conscious of it, I had equated being a Christian to being and overall nice-ish person, and therefore I guess doing “good works”. Little did I know that such an outlook means taking God out of the equation.
As a result, whenever I was not being a “good” Christian and did not meet certain “standards of God”, which I later came to realise were my own standards, I felt like I was not worthy to come before Him, so much so there were perpetually low periods where I did not go to church at all.
Despite not attending church at all, I still regarded myself as a “Christian”, and I think I half-knew I was just a nominal one. The great test of my nominal faith came when I was around 15 years old and on the adolescent path of self-discovery. Friends of other faiths, beliefs and world views challenged my shaky Christian conviction and that resulted in me falling away from the faith. On hindsight, I am thankful for that. You could say I was agnostic for two more years and removed myself away from a false god that I saw as proud, demanding, egoistic, needy and biased. I had many false views of God and didn’t want to have anything to do with Him.
However, even though I had given up on God completely, God did not give up on me. He used Truman (my brother) amongst others to reach out to me and I attended an evangelistic Bible study which while redefining the faith I once thought I was well-acquainted with, corrected my view of God and eventually visited RHC. God, who is so rich in mercy, consistently pursued me all these years and never completely gave me over to my sinful desires. For is wasn’t just due to false ideas of God that led me to fall away, but really my depravity, my pride and sinful heart. This truth became plain to me when I was studying the book of Romans, which so cuttingly and accurately depicts human nature. How could I, knowing that this is a God who nailed my sins to the cross, who justifies the ungodly, who came down to Earth in flesh to experience suffering and actively pursues my heart, not fall to my knees and repent and place my faith in Him? After understanding the gospel and knowing what Christ has done for a sinner like me, I am filled with gratitude for the series of events and people placed in my life that led me to RHC as I can now better appreciate God’s assuring, enduring and unchanging love and grace for me.
On March 1st, I was baptised and became a member of RHC. Baptism was my public declaration of the death to my old ways and the new life in Christ now. I know this walk will be fraught with valleys of darkness, unevenly-paved rocky roads, but I have brothers and sisters in Christ here to share the walk with and steer me on. And more importantly, a God who “is able to keep [me] from stumbling and to present [me] blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy” (Jude 1:24).