"Jesus did not just come to prepare us to die but to teach us how to live."
I recently spent a week at my grandpas independent baptist church in Texas. I've grown up in the church atmosphere, my dad being a music pastor and my grandpa being a pastor. When I was younger we would take family road trips to Texas to visit the family and without fail, the entire week would always revolve around going to church and hearing my grandpa preach. This is something I have always known and throughout my entire life the church routine has never changed. In fact I could probably act the whole thing out from the first choir hymn to the last verse of "just as I am..." I know every bit of it and no matter what the topic of the sermon is it will always end with the bowing your head and raising your hands. My mom likes to call it "baptist aerobics". "Raise your hand if you're not sure you have ever been saved... Raise your hand (and I'm not joking) if you feel convicted to get more involved in church or you want to join the choir." And it always ends with "If you were to die right now and you are not sure you would go to heaven, please come down to this old fashioned altar."
Now don't get me wrong. It's EXTREMELY important to give your life to Christ, to live for Him. Its just that when I leave these services I always feel scared and a little depressed. It always makes me feel like God is so far away and all I want to feel are His arms wrapped around me. And that is my problem with these kinds of churches. They rarely ever share the love of God. It makes me feel condemned instead of forgiven. They show us how to die securely instead of teaching us how to live abundantly. Never telling us that we are God's children, that He loves us more than we could ever imagine. Instead they get into the habit of preaching the same sermon over and over again. Quoting the same lines. We are supposed to be the hands and feet of Christ and yet most of us know nothing about Him.
When I go to church I want to hear about Jesus, I want to hear about this great man who gave His life for me. Instead all I hear is how to escape hell-fire.
I was reading a book awhile ago that asked the question, "If there was no heaven and no hell would you still follow Jesus? would you follow Him for the life, joy, and fulfillment He gives you right now?"
We should seek this kind of relationship with Him. After all, Jesus did come so that we could have life and have it more abundantly.