So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.
Acts 11:25,26 (ESV)
As I continued to struggle through the teenage years, going into young adulthood I was reading my Bible. I was looking for answers. The book of Acts was an eye opener for me. As I read through it, I realized it was telling the story of the beginnings of “the church”, and that when people learned about Jesus from the Apostles they were baptized and added to “the church”. The idea of “the church” was a new concept for me to grapple with.
All my life I had known there were all different types of churches. After seeing the words “the church” in the book of Acts I began to wonder what, and where is “the church”? It bothered me that I could not name the church, because I didn’t know what “the church” was. I wondered if it even existed anymore. As I drove around the area I lived I took notice of the names of the churches and realized they all had a different name that proceeded “church”. This only muddied the waters for me. Why so many different names for the church? It made no sense to me. I knew from what I read in Acts that there was a church and the members of it were called Christians, but where was it?
Between the ages of 18 and 20 I struggled with knowing I needed salvation. I knew I needed to change my life and follow Jesus, but the fact that there were so many different ideas of what the church was and how one is saved stopped me from moving forward. During this time I delivered burial vaults to cemeteries for a living. So, the reality of death was a constant companion for me. Daily, I set up the graves of people from all walks of life and ages. From toddlers to the elderly, accidents to suicides they all came to the same end. Often this caused me to consider my own mortality, and the fact that as far as I knew I would be lost if I died.
After reading my Bible I had come to the conclusion that my infant baptism, was not the type of baptism that I saw in the Bible. The other thing I had realized as I read my Bible was that nowhere in there did I see someone say a prayer that saved them from their sins. I had come to the conclusion that I was not saved. There were many times as I was driving my truck either to or from a cemetery that I passed churches and wondered if I should stop and ask someone there if they could help me work my way through this struggle. But, every time I would drive on, thinking that I would do it another time. After all, how did I know if they were “the church”. Every church I passed had a different name, yet all said they were Christians. I couldn’t bring myself to stop at any of these places, I slowed down and almost turned into their parking lots several times, but I would always turn away and keep on going.
© 2014 Leo J. Woodman