Greg Mamula is an ordained minister and the Associate Executive Minister of American Baptist Churches of Nebraska.
“Despite what many people think, within the Christian family and outside it, the point of Christianity isn’t ‘to go to heaven when you die.’”
–Simply Christian, N.T. Wright
I did not grow up going to church on a regular basis, but went often enough to catch the same glimpses of faith many people see with only a cursory glance at Christianity. Like many people I was taught that Jesus was my personal helper in time of need and the gate keeper into heaven. So when I prayed for something like my dad not to leave for months on end for work or to not have to move over and over again and God didn’t deliver I questioned his power and existence.
I believed that the Christian faith was ultimately about going to some ethereal heaven someday. I believed I had to intellectually assent to the reality that Jesus died only for my individual sins, and simply admit that I was a worthless sinner and ask for forgiveness. I struggled with the purpose of Christianity even as I felt a call into vocational ministry. What is the point of belief in God if he seems to be a failed helper? Is the only purpose of Christ to get us into heaven so I don’t burn in hell? That seemed like a very unfulfilling and vindictive God.