One of the things I remember vividly is the first altar call I attended. I grew up in a branch of Adventistism that didn’t really do altar calls. They called people to faith, sure, in calling them to embrace a way of life. But there was no call to come forward in front of everyone, publicly confess your sin, and have some profound experience in the moment.
I think the first such time was attending a church a friend invited me to that was charismatic. I’d joined him for some worship events. Experiencing worship with him and some of our charismatic friends as a teenager opened up a whole new world of relating to God in different ways. He was in the Christian club at my high school and I remember, coming from a very reserved tradition of worship being taken aback at being invited to express my emotions in worship. I was even more taken aback by hearing him say to God “you must be on crack” when thanking God for how “crazy good” he must be. Seeing such honesty in prayer showed me that I could be honest to God, really myself. I also learned to be more of a mystic, something I take with me as a progressive Christian.
However what I remember about the altar call is hearing all the ways God would bless my life, improve it, if I would just choose faith. If I would surrender my failings and seek to pray.
Long term of course following the path of Christ can be rewarding, life-giving. Yet beginning on this path can be difficult. Sometimes choosing to begin our life in a new way can initially be very hard.
We push against our own inner resistance, and others who are invested in the ways things have always been done.
I’ve seen this when people tried to give up alcohol or drugs. Initially this involves pushing against not just their own inner resistance, but a whole pattern of life. Often the changes first aren’t pretty, and family who once supported sobriety can begin to push back.
Similarly when we try to give up our addiction to sexism, racism, homophobia, we can face push-back from those close to us uncomfortable with this.
Ultimately however, pushing through this resistance is the only way to get to the other side of such process of change – to recovery, to personal liberation, for helping transform our culture to one more liberating for others.
Let’s continue to push forward.
And I ain’t whistling Dixie,
your progressive redneck preacher,