From Someone Else’s Jesus to Real Jesus

Sep 26, 2017 by

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I was one of those kids who thought she had a boring testimony because it didn’t include a shocking story.

One of those kids who went straight from the hospital nursery to the church nursery.

One of those kids who asked Jesus into her heart before she had a chance to commit any big sins but somehow “knew I was a sinner.” I’d said a bad word that the neighbor boy taught me, and once when Mom put a pack of plain white underwear into the shopping basket, I sneaked and switched them for the flowered ones that I liked better.

I lost count of how many times I “prayed the prayer” again just in case I didn’t do it right the first time… or the tenth. (I don’t think I said, “personal Lord and Savior” when I was five, so in case that’s required….)

I grew up on The Gathers, VBS, “Jesus Loves Me,” John 3:16, black patent leather Sunday Shoes, “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep,” listening to adults talk about The End Times and hoping they never made me watch A Thief in the Night because it sounded horrifying, flannel board Bible stories, and the picture of Jesus looking thoughtfully up to the heavens.

Thanks, Mom, for letting me keep these memories of faith from Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

My grandpa on Mom’s side was a Gideon; Dad’s dad occasionally preached at The Prairie Flower Church (he wasn’t ordained, but He loved talking about the Bible); my parents both taught Sunday school; Dad was an usher; I often came home from school to Mom doing her Bible Study Fellowship homework. If I came home from school to an empty house, a rush of fear that the Rapture had happened and I’d been left behind prompted me to pray the prayer again.

My sisters and I led all of our pets and favorite dolls to the Lord.

Once, in high school, a nice elderly gentleman who reminded me of Grandpa offered me a Gideon New Testament. I said no thank you. I turned it down because I already had a Bible, including a Gideon New Testament that I couldn’t read because the print was too small. Later, I felt terribly guilty for refusing the Bible. What if he thinks I’m an atheist! He’s probably praying for my salvation right now.  

After that, I always took the New Testament when an elderly gentleman who reminded me of Grandpa offered me one. Then I passed it on to someone who could read it.

In case I haven’t made it clear, I grew up knowing Jesus.

In the 90s, people like me were known as GUBAs – Grew Up Born Again. And we were proud of it even if we (okay, I) never applied the name to ourselves out loud because GUBA sounded ridiculous.

I have always been thankful that I got to be one of those kids who grew up in a Christian home where Mom and Dad introduced me to Jesus before introducing me to solid foods—one of those kids who grew up wanting to make Jesus happy, and get the prayer right so I could go to Heaven—who grew up going to church, helping Mom teach Sunday school, singing along with the Gathers, and hearing adults talk about the Bible—who didn’t want to be mistaken for a nonbeliever even if I didn’t always act like one.

When I hear stories from women who had a much harder road to Christ, I know I have been blessed.

But let me share a secret about those of us who grew up on Jesus: We still had to find Him on our own.

Let me share a secret about those of us who grew up on Jesus... Click To Tweet

We needed to meet Jesus for ourselves after years of knowing someone else’s Jesus.

We had to make some bad choices (worse than switching packs of underwear while Mom was sidetracked with chasing Sherry through the sock aisle) so we would understand what it meant to be a sinner in need of grace.

We had to become walking examples that good Christian girls who grow up in Christian homes still need God to rescue them from pits.

We had to get burned by a few church people so we could learn the difference between placing our trust in Christ and placing our trust in the church or our fellow believers.

We went through divorces and depression and abusive relationships, and came out understanding what it felt like to cling to Jesus in the dark, and why pat answers about how He works aren’t appreciated.

We had to do things that we once judged others for, and feel the sting of being judged and labeled, so we would grasp the meaning of Jesus’s words “Do not judge.”

We found ourselves in churches that looked different than what we’d been told was “the right way,” listened to points of view that we’d been warned were unbiblical, and read books that some of our Christian friends wouldn’t approve of. Some of what we saw and heard and read did turn out to be unbiblical, but some of it turned out not to be. In fact, it was exactly what we needed. Some of it even drew us closer to Jesus and helped us love others in a deeper way. Then we needed to find the courage to make our faith about Him instead of what we’d always been taught about Him, or what our Christian friends and the man handing out New Testaments might think of us.

In some ways, we got to have two conversions, once as kids and again as adults who were finally ready to trust the Real Jesus to love us, and stop praying the prayer of salvation over and over again as if it didn’t work the first time, or Jesus was just another fickle friend.

I was reminded of all of this when I read Jami Amerine’s beautiful, funny, honest, and thought-provoking memoir, Stolen Jesus: An Unconventional Search for the Real Savior, and saw myself in many of her stories even though our lives have been very different. Her experiences with Mormon Jesus, High School Jesus, Scare-Me-Up Jesus, Americanized Jesus, and finally Real Jesus moved me to want to know Real Jesus even better, and to be one of those people who reflects Him and draws other to Him.

 

How did you meet Jesus? What about the Real Jesus?

 

While you’re pondering the question, check out Stolen Jesus. You can order it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or wherever great books are sold.

 

NOTE: I received a free copy of Stolen Jesus as part of Jami’s launch team, but I would have bought the book and given it this glowing review anyway.

 

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