Far too many people, especially young people, are being turned off by Christianity because too many preachers are making it seem like they have to live like a nun or monk to be a true Christian. Before you listen to what a preacher has to say about how to live a true Christian life, begin to read your bible for yourself. There are a number of translations of the bible available for you—pick the translation or translations that work for you. Don’t simply read your bible but study it. Purchase biblical study aids that will enrich your study and give you deeper understandings of God’s word. Read and study your bible for yourself!
Now, I’m not suggesting at all that you should not go to church and listen to the teaching and preaching of a man of God. You should go to church and listen to the teaching and preaching of a man of God to accompany your reading and studying of the bible. Just don’t let the teaching and preaching the man of God does be your only engagement with the bible. In fact, God commands each person to study His word to “show thyself approved.”
Many young people feel like being a true Christian is simply too difficult because preachers make it seem almost like they cannot do anything, especially anything that’s fun. I want to let young people know that you can have fun and still be a true Christian. Of course, there are clear things that the bible point out that you cannot do, but there is so much more that you can do while you enjoy a personal relationship with God.
Although many preachers believe that it’s a sin to listen to non-Gospel music, such as rap and pop music, I want you to challenge them to give you some substantive teaching about how this is a sin. Don’t simply let them rap one, two, or three scriptures to you—challenge them to give you some true and deep biblical teaching about this subject. What you will discover is they will not be able to offer you much bible-based teaching about this subject. However, I want you to be on high alert for them to attempt to present their personal opinions and preferences as if they are grounded in the scriptures and biblical principles. You don’t want to be living your life based on someone’s opinions—live your life based on what God’s word truly says. Don’t let preachers shame you out of listening to non-Gospel music by telling you that non-Gospel music is “the Devil’s music.” “The Devil’s music”? Really? Some Gospel songs can be far more depressing and damaging than many non-Gospel songs.
When preachers tell you that you cannot go to the movies, I want you to challenge them on this subject in the same way I have discussed about challenging them on their opposition to you listening to non-Gospel music. You can be a true Christian and go to the movies.
Now, if you do want to be a nun or monk, I applaud you for wanting to live a life of this type. However, for those who don’t want to be a nun or monk, I want you to know that you can live a victorious and saved life in this present world and have tons of fun! You don’t have to be a “bible thumper” to go to Heaven and you don’t have to talk about God every second in order to make it into Heaven.
Don’t miss out on the full life that you can be living simply because you failed to read and study your bible and only listened to what your pastor had to say about the bible. At the end of the day, your pastors are men of God but they are still human beings, and, as we all know, all human beings are not perfect and do make mistakes. Being a Christian means that you are a personal follower of Christ. Your pastor cannot live your walk with God for you—you have to live your walk with Christ for yourself.
In no way should this article be perceived as an attack on any preacher, but it’s more of a call for people to realize that they need to experience God for themselves, and one of the most intimate and meaningful ways to experience God for yourself is to read and study His word for yourself.
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison