I grew up in a mainline church where, most of the time, the teaching would point to knowledge and good works as a means to forgiveness of sin and its consequences (salvation). Meaning, the one who tops the bible quizzes and the one who donates the most is respected and will surely go to heaven.
The Rebellious Person I Actually Was
Personally, I went through a lot. This also caused gossip within the Church. Those made me hate Christians… I would rebel against everything they considered moral and right, but I knew there were many things that were simply useless and hypocritical.
I would defy people with the clothes I wear, with the friends I chose and a lot more. One could now go back to my older circles and tell them that I’m a believing Christian and most likely, they would stare in disbelief and laugh it off.
That’s who I was – the unconventional person who doesn’t care and who thought she would never change.
I met a few pastors who were different and who kindled the interest in Christianity within me. So I would read the Bible in the morning and evening without really understanding it. I had biblical justifications to whatever I did because I thought I got it. I would fast forty days during the lent. You see, I knew God was on my side, no matter what my rebellion was. I didn’t need a church. So long as my convictions were strong, it was all fine. If I didn’t do anything wrong in my eyes, so I’ll go to heaven. Oh, I was so self-righteous! This was all from a skewed comprehension of the bible that I had at the time.
When It All Made Sense
Press fast-forward and many other issues later, we arrive at a Marg Sunday church gathering. I was in Pune just for six months. My master’s degree was to be completed in Italy.
The mass on Sunday mornings didn’t give me the goosebumps like I expected “good” churches to give me. But the reasoning in their teaching was beyond what I’d ever heard. And the people genuinely cared and loved, through the week, not just on Sundays. I thought they were faking it at first, just like the rest. But the Marg family recognised their weaknesses and trusted in God to work in them.
How on Earth is that possible?
They picked up questions that people in Christianity simply wouldn’t pick up because it seemingly challenges Christianity itself, like:
The answers I got at the gatherings were hard-hitting, but honest and made complete sense. These guys at Marg were really, really sure of God’s existence. It wasn’t just a desperate hope. It was faith (Hebrews 11:1).
Spiritual Warfare: My Freedom from Guilt and Shame
Vivek went through a teaching (expository) of Romans 7-8. And these verses hit me like a bomb! They would literally make me want to get up and leave the hall as the Spirit of God started convicting me.
Here are some of those bomb-dropping verses:
God did this so that the righteous demands of the Law might be fully satisfied in us who live according to the Spirit, and not according to human nature. Romans 8:4
If the Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from death, lives in you, then he who raised Christ from death will also give life to your mortal bodies by the presence of his Spirit in you. Romans 8:11
For if you live according to your human nature, you are going to die; but if by the Spirit you put to death your sinful actions, you will live. Romans 8:13
Since we are his children, we will possess the blessings he keeps for his people, and we will also possess with Christ what God has kept for him; for if we share Christ’s suffering, we will also share his glory. Romans 8:17
We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
In view of all this, what can we say? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31
Who will accuse God’s chosen people? God himself declares them not guilty! Romans 8:33
Who, then, will condemn them? Not Christ Jesus, who died, or rather, who was raised to life and is at the right side of God, pleading with him for us! Romans 8:34
No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! For I am certain that nothing can separate us from his love: neither death nor life, neither angels nor other heavenly rulers or powers, neither the present nor the future
neither the world above nor the world below—there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39
You see, there is surety of going to heaven because of what God did.
What I Believed To Be True
I knew how to recite the Nicene Creed and other prayers but I just didn’t know the meaning of how completely hopeless I was and how completely holy He was. Who will save this wretched me (Romans 7:24)? I deserve nothing but hell.
All this while, there was guilt accompanying my self-righteousness. My rebellion was my fig leaf, to cover up what I did, as Adam and Eve, the first humans did. God Himself, though, has clothed me in Christ’s righteousness.
The Truth That Set Me Free
I have no condemnation in the creator’s eyes (Romans 8:1).
Do you see how big that is? There is nothing I need to do by myself, except have faith.
This was so simple. And, I am more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37). I am a child of God Almighty himself. So. I don’t need to prove myself, fight for my rescue and reputation; I have assurance because he took up all my failures and my rebellion, died, but won over it in the resurrection.
All of a sudden, the whole Bible made sense at a completely different level. Christ was everywhere in the Bible, just as he explained (Luke 24:27).
The whole world made sense. We keep trying to save – ourselves in our lives, from destruction in films, from insecurity in our families, from failures at work. We all have a hazy picture. And now the picture was only obvious.
A New Life – No Turning Back
Meanwhile, my plan to go to Italy was cancelled a fortnight before leaving because of a sudden change in the SENSEX and the Euro value shooting up. My dad just couldn’t afford it anymore. A couple of months later someone from Marg fell in love with me. Coincidence, you think? I believe not. God had a plan for a different life, a less glamorous one on Earth and a way more glamorous one in heaven.
I kept pushing my church leaders for my membership in Marg because, by that time, this was the first Church I felt I was truly a part of. And I was because God included me as he had set my fate before making anything (Romans 8:29). Suddenly I was part of his body (1 Corinthians 12:27), his bride (Revelations 19:7).
Do I have the knowledge and do good things now? No, Christ in me has. His life in me does. And there has been no looking back.
Who would have ever thought I, Janet Sheetal Pulickel, the maverick then, would end up being a different kind of nonconformist – a “Jesus freak”, and one who boasts in him at that!?
So that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” ~1 Corinthians 1:31
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Guest Post by Janet Sheetal Pulickel
She is a writer at heart and a mother in practice. Her passion for supporting her husband in ministry and the work flows through her relationships and home management. She has been a content specialist and also was with NDTV, working extensively on the 2013 Indian helicopter bribery scandal and the Enrica Lexie case. She is an alumnus of IED Rome and FAD Pune. Also a cat lover, coffee addict and avid non-fiction reader, she can help solve your questions on Fashion and Christianity and where the two meet.