Is It Time to Change Your Mind about Jesus?

I have been a Christian all my life. At least it feels that way.

Many of my significant childhood memories tie to church in one way or another. Memories of people, music, and fun all orbit the church of my childhood.

I was seven years old when I had my first, “I’m supposed to believe in Jesus” moment. Everyone around me that I loved and loved me believed in Jesus, so it made sense to me to believe in him as well.

But I didn’t. At least not for a while. I waited until I was twelve before I signed up as a Jesus believer.

A lot has changed since then.

I made the decision to follow Jesus forty years ago in a world that was a very different place.

I lived outside a small town about an hour south of St. Louis, MO. My black-and-white television had four channels and I had an old radio I used to listen to St. Louis Cardinals baseball games.

I was just then beginning to feed a lifetime voracious hunger for reading, but I really only read books a twelve year old would read.

I was a Baptist and I was learning why it was better to be Baptist than Catholic, Methodist, or Pentecostal–all of which we had in my hometown. Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, or even atheists never entered my religious universe.

If I grew up just off the equivalent of an information gravel road, I now live in the fast lane of an information superhighway.

I do not even know how many channels I have on my televisions. I do not even need “channels” any more. I can watch television shows on my Mac or my iPad or even my iPhone. Anytime anywhere and almost anyway, I can find out what is going on all over the world.

Cable television and broadband internet access have blown the doors open and exposed all of us to a multitude of religious and social ideas. It is a crowded room with lots of strong opinions.

It has always been there, I just grew up shielded from the world around me. Most of us have.

So, I ask you this difficult question?

Is it time to change your mind about Jesus?

What I mean by this is has the time come for us, those of us who call ourselves believers or followers of Jesus Christ, to rethink who Jesus is and can be to the world?

Five things come to mind for me when I ask this question. In many ways, it challenges me to forget what I think it means to be Christian.

Asking the question, “Is it time to change your mind about Jesus?” causes me to rethink these five assumptions central to my faith:

  • Everyone wants Jesus.
  • Everyone should be a Christian.
  • Everyone wants to come to church.
  • Every family looks the same.
  • Everyone cares what I think.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will try to unpack what it means to change our minds about Jesus.

I am really interested in your opinion and your feedback. You can help me sort this out so I can be a more effective leader and teacher.

Have you changed your mind about Jesus? In what ways do you think differently about Jesus now than earlier in your life?

  • Todd Holden

    Like you I grew up in the church…a pretty conservative Baptist church in south fla and my life revolved around it. I have changed dramatically…And I continue to evolve. I believe it was Merton who said if the you of 5 years ago does not consider the you of today a heretic then you are not growing spiritually. I think the core of that is true. (by the way the fact that I even know who Merton is much less have read some of his work is proof of what you are saying). How is what I think different? In purely theological terms I guess I would say I am a borderline Christian Universalist…all are saved through Christ. (I say borderline because I have not quite taken the final leap). I have come to believe that the gospel is entirely about how we love God and those around us! In fact I believe that the way we actually love God is by loving those around us! So if love is my central criteria then it necessarily changes the way I think about those who do not define themselves as Christian. I am no longer interested in who is “in” and who is “out”. I am interested in how I can share and show the love of Christ by loving everyone I come in contact with. Now that is my ideal…I am a spectacular failure at it but that is who I want to be! I continue to read and think and evolve…not sure what the me of 5 years from now will think…but for now…Yes I have changed my mind about Jesus…I am pretty radically different in my thinking than that kid who was a really bad at preaching in your class!

    • Darrell Gwaltney

      Todd, I always imagined you would be a deep thinker and that you would honestly seek to love others in ministry.

      I think Merton’s comment has a lot of truth to it if for no other reason we must be open to rethinking what we believe. It is never good for us to concretize our beliefs as if they will never change over the course of our lives.

      The confidences of our youth often erode in the winds of daily life. God is good, gracious, and loving and helps us rebuild those confidences as we understand God anew.

      If none of that was true, then theologians would be out of business!

      And by the way, I saw lots of promise in you in preaching class! You are living into it!

  • Royce Harrell

    Darrell, I never thought that “Everyone wants Jesus” but that everyone “needs Jesus” unless you mean that they will want Jesus when they know what he offers. I’m looking forward to your “unpacking.” Royce Harrell

    • DarrellGwaltney

      Royce, Yes. It is kind of like, “Well, if they only knew about Jesus, obviously they’d say “yes” to him. They would discover he’s what they have been looking for all along.”

      More and more, it seems when people hear about Jesus they respond with a “No, thanks!” Why is that the case?

      More on that today . . . .