[Life 201 is a weekly advice column headed by pastor, counselor and RELEVANT Podcast member Eddie Kaufholz. Eddie answers questions and gives advice on issues you want to hear about. Email your questions to Life201@RELEVANTmagazine.com.]
Eddie, I accepted Christ when I was 12 as a part of a confirmation class. But now, as a 23-year-old, I wonder if it really meant anything. I’ve prayed the prayer of salvation MANY times since then, but never know if it really took or if I’m just being crazy. How do I know if I’m really saved?
Caroline, I love your heart and the spirit of this question. Because the sentiment behind the inquiry is a desire to genuinely and eternally connect with God—which is beautiful. Additionally, I totally see how that desire could become clouded when wrestling with the nuts and bolts of what it means to be “saved.”
Now, there are multiple rabbit trails that we could go down together in search for that answer. We could talk about the idea of a confirmation class and if it is, or is not, something helpful in the life of a pre-teen. For me, it was hugely impactful. For others, it was pointless. In any event, dabbling in the theology of the subjective is rarely helpful and would probably create more confusion, which none of us need.
Additionally, we could really go off the rails and begin a conversation about conditional or unconditional election, and the possibility of losing your salvation. We could dig into the Five Points of Calvinism and compare/contrast them to the Arminianism counterpart. This would probably make the Facebook servers melt via the deluge of vitriolic comments. Now Caroline, I’m not afraid of this response, but I don’t think clarity on any of these ideas would lead to clarity in your heart, which is what’s needed.
So what will help? I think it would be helpful for you to know that beginning to follow Jesus doesn’t necessarily start the same way for everybody. For some individuals, there’s a moment—a delineating event—that separates the BC years from AD years of their life. In this moment (sometimes called “praying to receive Christ” or “being saved”), people often describe a sense of a weight being lifted or a peace being realized. My guess is that you haven’t really experienced a moment with this much clarity. Which isn’t bad, because …
For others, there is no defining moment—it’s just a reality that has just always just been there. Maybe they started following Jesus when they were little kids, or maybe faith was slowly cultivated and then, one day, just realized. In any event, there is no date on a calendar, which leads some to question if conversion ever happened at all. Could that be what you’re wrestling with, Caroline? Because to me, it seems from your question like you’re searching for the moment, yet you already have faith in what is hoped for and an assurance about what is not seen (a paraphrase of Hebrews 11:1).
But to alleviate any ambiguity from this answer, I’m going to ask you three questions. I don’t want you to get lost in if you’ve answered them before or not, I just want you answer, in the present tense, “Yes, I agree with that statement” or “No, I disagree with that statement.” Ready?
Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?
Do you believe that He died on the Cross for your sins and for your salvation?
Caroline, is it your desire to follow Him all the days of your life?
If you answered yes to all of these questions, then you should circle this date on the calendar! If you’re still working on answering yes to one or more of them, let me first say good job for being courageous enough to admit that, and also know that forming an answer to these questions are significantly more important that figuring out if your confirmation class worked.
A life spent following Jesus isn’t about a moment, it’s about a condition of the heart. Knowing if you’re really saved isn’t about examining an event from the past, it’s about assessing the present and moving with purpose into the future. My encouragement for you is to examine your heart today, and then take your next right steps towards pursuing Christ.
My questions are all about online dating:
1. Is it moving your trust from Jesus to provide you with a spouse to putting all your hope in (insert chosen site here)?
2. Are there sites to stay away from (i.e., Tinder) and sites to be open to (i.e. Christian Mingle)?
3. Is it furthering the division of community by encouraging people to browse from a computer and not actually using people to meet people or is it helping people meet who may not otherwise?
4. Is it super weird?
1. Oh gosh, I hope not. That’s like saying that you’re putting all your faith and hope in a friend who introduced you to his coworker. The means by which you meet is just that, a means to an end. God makes marriages, everyone or everything else just makes introductions. I don’t see (insert chosen site here) as being anything more than a digital introduction.
2. There must be, right? I’m not going to research this because I have firewalls and accountability partners to worry about, but I’m sure that not all dating sites are created equal. For a better answer to this, I’d ask people you trust in your non-digital community and go with the wisdom of the masses.
3. A few years ago, I would have agreed fully that online dating is working against “real,” purposeful community. However, it’s a brave new world, and the definition of community is changing rapidly with every new socially networked opportunity. And anecdotally, I’ve married dozens of incredible couples who have met online and are now changing the world with their awesome marriages. So even though I may be crumondgly, I have to acquiesce to the reality that God’s doing something here and I need to not hold on too tight to the church organ, in fear of the electric guitar rif-raff.
4. You know what, I don’t think so anymore. As long as you’re not going it alone and you’ve got people around you who are guarding you during the journey (which you should have anytime you date), I say go for it.
And with that, I’m out (drops the mic). Thank you for reading and submitting awesome questions!
Have a question? Good! All identifying information will be kept anonymous. Send an email to Life201@RELEVANTmagazine.com
Eddie Kaufholz is a writer, speaker and podcaster and serves as a director of church mobilization for International Justice Mission. He also hosts and produces "The New Activist" podcast. You can find on Twitter @EdwardorEddie.