I often wonder what it would have been like to grow up as a pastor’s kid. From the outside, it seems they are basically issued a salvation guarantee along with their birth certificate. Perfectly insulated from the outside world, taught to love Jesus before they could even understand what sin was, and given a front-row seat to witness the Christian life modeled perfectly every day in their own homes. Life must be a breeze!
I’m sure every pastor’s kid reading this is laughing at their screen right now. But to a newly saved Christian who didn’t grow up in a Christian home, it was really easy to feel that my salvation was “unconventional” and that I would somehow be at a spiritual disadvantage compared to those who were raised in a faithful church. It was easy to believe the lie that if only I had a stronger Christian upbringing then I would’ve found the Lord a lot sooner and been spared from a lot of pain.
I thought I was a Christian…
When I was younger, I would have told you I was a Christian. I went to a megachurch with my grandmother and thought an intellectual knowledge of Jesus would keep me out of hell. I had no understanding of my sin and what it truly meant to submit to Jesus as Lord and Savior. My life represented the judgment Christ gave in Matthew 7:22-23: “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”
While I claimed to have a hope in God, my life felt vain and unsatisfying, no matter how I tried to fill the void. I found my worth in being the most successful student or having the most friends by throwing the best parties. But the more I tried to find fulfillment in the things of the world, the emptier I felt. The joyful and abundant life Christ promised seemed like such a foreign concept. As time went on, I began to doubt my faith altogether.
Yet while I was actively living in rebellion against God—all the while thinking I was in good standing with Him—the Lord was chasing after me to bring me to Himself according to His perfect plan.
I can’t do this on my own
By the Lord’s grace, He crossed my paths with a peer in high school. I barely knew him at the time, but I did know he claimed to be a Christian and that his life actually looked different. He didn’t get caught up in all the sinful activities everyone around us lived in so normally. He seemed to have some sort of joy in the Christian life that I was never able to conjure up myself.
Eventually, I decided to reach out and ask him how he knew his faith was real and how he was able to find joy in his faith. Through a series of conversations, my friend pointed me to Scripture passages and helpful sermons. I began to learn the value of reading the Bible intentionally as the Lord began to soften my heart to His truth. My friend pointed me to the book of Ecclesiastes, and it helped me realize how empty life is apart from God. And how only a life lived in obedience to Him could give me the freedom I longed for.
Because of these God-ordained conversations, I began searching the Scriptures and came across Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5 that in order to be acceptable to God we must be perfect as He is perfect (verse 48). Upon learning this truth, I realized I had no hope in forming a relationship with God on my own terms. Instead, I needed the grace Christ offers in salvation for eternal life.
If you asked my friend, he’d probably say he didn’t think much of our conversations at the time. All he did was answer a few questions and show grace to a neighbor who was wrestling with the truth. Yet the Lord used his faithfulness to reach a soul who had no hope of finding salvation on his own.
God can find us anywhere
Neither myself nor my friend can ultimately take any credit for my conversion. There is no ideal person more fit than another to be saved or to be used by God in His saving of others. Regardless of whether you’re a pastor’s kid or grew up hating the name of Christ, God is able to find us anywhere. And He gives us new life when we trust in the sufficient sacrifice of His Son.
So if you’re the lost person who has felt like God could never find you where you are, God is able to do “far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20). Draw near to the Lord in humility and rely on His Holy Spirit to make you entirely new as you seek to live for His kingdom.
“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen” (Hebrews 13:20-21).
Have more questions about the Christian life? Read “How to Know God.”
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Niko Tomc grew up in Jupiter, Florida, and loves to travel and explore outdoors. He currently attends the University of Notre Dame as a Junior studying Political Science and Digital Marketing. Upon graduation, he hopes to move back to South Florida, get plugged in to his home church, Grace Immanuel Bible Church, and work at a digital marketing agency. You can find Niko on Instagram (@nikotomc_), Twitter (@niko_tomc), and TikTok (@nikotomc).