Have We Grown Past That Old Time Religion?

For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

For many of us, John 3:16 was the first Bible verse that we memorized. Yet sadly, so many Christians feel they have outgrown this verse. They believe themselves to have moved past its meaning and that childlike faith they had growing up in church services, Vacation Bible School, and youth camps.

By the time we reach young adulthood and begin to enter the workforce, those precious childhood memories of our best Sunday dress and gospel moments seem like ages ago. As a sophisticated adult, the very idea of a loving and caring God so important to our younger days can be viewed as quaint, but as meaningful? For many, it was perhaps the faith of their grandparents and their generation, but not our own. It’s too rigid. Too archaic. As a result, many opt to hold the faith they once held dear at an arm’s length until they’re ready to live a life more in line with the “old-fashioned ways” of the Bible or until the crisis strikes and they run out of any other option. Then, when everything settles down, that’s when they’ll return to that Old Time Religion.

But that’s not the faith of our grandparents at all. The faith they exhibited was lived out day-to-day for decades before we ever took notice. They walked with Jesus every day long before we came along. So, when our grandmother sang us hymns at bedtime, it wasn’t a new song she had just learned in choir practice—it was the same song she had sung to your mother when rocking her to sleep. It was the same song she had sung as a little girl herself. That song—that reminder of the nearness of her Savior—kept her close to him through every storm of life. That’s not a faith grounded in attending church on the occasional weekend. A faith like that takes time.

A faith like that makes it easy to share with others. A faith like that spills out. Could that be why we find it so difficult to share our faith with others? Could it be that we lack that hard-earned confidence in God-our-Savior and that is why we find the words so difficult to speak?

The gospel hasn’t changed. It still saves. Romans 10:13 says, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,” and that promise still stands today. Christ is still saving those who trust in him by grace through faith—those who hear of Christ’s sacrifice and believe with a sincere heart. Christ hasn’t changed. He still offers the hope and fulfillment we seek.

In my next post, I want to offer an evangelism tool that I’ve found helpful in keeping me pursuing the lost. But for now, maybe it’s worth asking if our hesitation in sharing the gospel is the result of our distance from it. Perhaps we need to read those simple words from John’s Gospel once more.

For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

Because if we believe those words to be true, it’s not the sort of thing that belong on a cross-stitched pillow carelessly tossed to the other end of the sofa. If we believe in him, it changes everything . . . and that can’t be put off.

Jesus Follower. Husband. Father. Evangelist. PhD Evangelism @SWBTS. Woodturner. Cyclist. Cast-Iron Culinarian.

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