The quiet kids. The good kids. The rule keepers.

When you told us Contemporary Christian music is worldly, we restricted ourselves to hymns and Southern Gospel.
When you told us television is a “one-eyed devil,” we turned our heads to avoid seeing them in restaurants.
When you told us short-sleeves can cause lust, we sweated through summer after summer in long sleeves.
When you told us women’s pants are an abomination, we assumed every Christian woman who wears them is lost.
When you told us facial hair is a sign of pride and rebellion, we treated bearded Christian men as backsliders.

Our consciences were sensitive.
Our hearts were tender.

We not only followed all the rules, we went above and beyond and added our own.
Just like you always told us, we wanted to be “safe rather than sorry.”

You said it’s not worth our souls to visit another type of church, so we assumed only our church group is going to heaven.
You said the preacher was the “man of God,” speaking the words of God, so we put him on a pedestal and believed even the words he spoke against us.
You said dying with unrepented sin would cause us to lose our salvation, so we began repenting constantly—for sins known and unknown—afraid we’d miss one and miss heaven on a technicality.

We loved Jesus.
We wanted to do what was right.
So, we jumped higher, and worked harder.
We never forgot a word you said.
We followed every rule you gave, religiously.

Years went by.
Some of us became so exhausted that we broke under the pressure.
Some of us became convinced that God must be harsh and unkind.
Some of us left faith entirely, feeling like we’d never measure up.

But some of us disentangled faith.
Some of us found the hope, peace, and joy of the gospel—good news that had been smothered by the ever-changing rules and confusion.
Some of us speak out about what we were taught and how harmful it was to our walk with God.

And your response?
“Oh, but we didn’t mean that.”
“No one really believed that.”
“That was preached so long ago.”
“That was only said once or twice.”

Yes, but we believed you.
How were we to know that holiness changes every few years?
How were we to know that standards have expiration dates?
How were we to know that something preached only once or twice isn’t true?…
How were we to know that certain “words from the Lord” should be ignored?
How were we to know you didn’t mean what you said?

We were the quiet kids.
The good kids.
The rule keepers.

We’re gone now.

By the grace of God, we’re finding churches and ministers who preach and teach the Scriptures, who study long hours in preparation for their sermons, who preach verse by verse through whole chapters and books, who don’t take the pulpit lightly, who don’t compete to see who can step on more toes, who aren’t quick to say “thus saith the Lord,” who apologize when they realize they preached something untrue.

But just so you know…
There was someone who was listening, who took you seriously, who remembered every standard, who kept every rule.

And, ironically…
You lost us,
because we believed you.

Permission to reprint granted by Berean Holiness ( April 30, 2024