Growing up, I attended two private Christian schools in Stockton called Lakeside Christian and Brookside Christian.
Like most impressionable children at Lakeside, I believed there was a man named Jesus in the sky watching over me; watching me when I play, eat, use the rest room, take a shower, etc.
This creeped me out a bit, but it didn’t stop me from playing hide and seek with Jesus during recess.
Lakeside would have chapel every Wednesday where one of its pastors would deliver a sermon.
On chapel days, we’d watch short cartoon clips of Jesus healing the crippled or anything that involved him being a Good Samaritan.
I recall one time where we watched a scene from the movie “Passion of the Christ.” What scene do you think they showed us at 6-9 years old?
The scene where Jesus was getting whipped and crucified.
We saw Jesus nailed to the cross and the crown of thorns making his head bleed profusely.
Why would they show a bloody man getting nailed to a cross to young children? Probably to hammer it into our heads that he went through that for us. No pun intended.
As this scene went on, I observed the audience of my fellow schoolmates and one of the girls in my class was crying.
What was going through her head? Were those tears of happiness and gratitude for this man going through this for her? Or were they tears of guilt, thinking “He went through that because of ME?”
After all, we were told that Jesus died for OUR sins because he loves us unconditionally, which is why we owe it to him to spend our time here on earth worshipping him.
But the cool thing about Jesus is that he doesn’t force us to worship him. He gave us free will.
If you choose to worship Jesus, you’ll go to heaven and live in pure bliss with him forever.
However, if you choose not to follow Jesus and live your life the way you want, you will go to hell and burn for eternity. So choose wisely.
As a child I lived in fear knowing that Jesus was watching my every move, he knew when I was asleep and awake. Whether I’m being bad or good and taking notes on my behavior, kind of like a Santa Claus 2.0.
I lived in fear knowing that any little mistake I made could result in me burning for the rest of eternity.
At Brookside Christian High school I started to see religion differently.
One day during Bible class the teacher started crying because her stepfather had died, but his death wasn’t all that was on her mind.
She was upset about how he wasn’t a follower in Christ, which meant she wouldn’t see him in heaven because he’d be in hell, despite the fact he was a very decent man, from what she told us.
So you’re saying that it doesn’t matter if you’re a good person on earth?
If you don’t follow Christ, you’ll go to hell?
At this point, I didn’t want to follow a God whose teachings instill guilt and fear in children, sends good people to hell and doesn’t want me to listen to music that isn’t Christ like, which I was told I’d regret when it’s my time to stand before God.
I want to live my life the way I want to, I want to listen to the music of my choice and not have to worry about someone in the sky disapproving.
Some of Christ’s followers may say this is selfish because they think I owe my life to a God who, in my opinion, doesn’t even exist. But this is my life and it very well may be the only one I have, so I’m going to live it the way I want to.