Estimated reading time: 5 minutes:-)
Last night I had a very interesting experience, and I felt like God wanted me to talk about a topic that is close to my heart this morning.
I met with a dear friend of mine at a coffee shop to bounce ideas off of each other and lift each other up (we’re both writers). And while we were there, a couple overheard us talking about church. The guy leaned over and joined our conversation, and eventually the girl joined, too.
I was excited to hear his thoughts. But as we kept talking, I realized he was pretty anti-church and had a very untraditional way of thinking.
Of course, I don’t think being untraditional is bad. But our conversation went something like this:
He began by referencing a verse without explaining what he meant by referencing it, as if it was beyond me to understand. He claimed the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are actually ages instead of three unique persons of God (I thought this was interesting, I had never heard of that interpretation before). His wife said she became a Christian through their bible studies. He believed in quite a few conspiracy theories which he talked about in depth (I thought this was very funny because, if you know me and my story, you know I’ve heard almost all the conspiracies out there). And he insisted I did a bible study with them at a later date because some topics were just too in depth and complicated for me to understand now.
What I found most interesting about it all was what he chose to talk about.
He asked me and my friend if we were Christians, to which we responded yes. Then after that, he asked if we believed the Bible was the truth. Of course, we said yes, but I found it strange that he felt the need to ask that question. Don’t you kind of have to believe in the Bible to be a Christian?
Finally, the couple left and me and my friend looked at each other with wide eyes. “What just happened,” I remember giggling. But honestly, I felt very heavy after that strange encounter.
Because while this couple was obviously passionate about the Bible, they didn’t talk about Jesus once. And I saw myself in them. It was hard to watch.
Just like the woman, I became a Christian through Bible study. Of course, this isn’t bad at all. I’m so thankful I spent so many of my middle school years studying the Bible for myself and believing in Christ because of it.
But it made me sad. Because back then, my faith consisted of me, alone in my bedroom, reading the Bible and trying to discover the Truth. I was obsessed with the Truth. In reality, it was right in front of my face. The Truth is Jesus Christ. The Truth is the gospel.
But to me, back then, the Truth was knowledge and wisdom about the Bible. It wasn’t faith. It was facts.
And I saw that in this couple. It breaks my heart.
My faith was so individual and prideful back in the day because I relentlessly (and for me, selfishly) pursued the Truth without even truly understanding the gospel first. I didn’t trust church because I believed they didn’t teach the Truth all the time. I didn’t trust other believers because I believed only my eyes were opened. I didn’t want fellowship because I felt like I was enlightened about the Bible and others weren’t.
But really, I was starved without fellowship, community, and worship. My ego got so puffed up that it pushed my relationship with Jesus away. My faith wasn’t about knowing Jesus, it was about knowing of Jesus. My passion to learn about the Bible was driven by the anger I had at the flawed world around me. But in reality, I was too prideful to believe I was a part of the problem.
Last night, I drove home feeling disgusted with myself and thankful and sad and heavy and joyful all at once.
I was sad to see others caught in the same mindset I was in.
I was disgusted with myself, and the way I used to be.
I am thankful, so thankful God didn’t leave me there. I’m so thankful he humbled me, broke me, loved me anyway, put up with me for all these years.
I was joyful that I have a relationship with Jesus now. That I have joy in Him, not in the things I know about Him. In Him.
And I was heavy because I felt the past pressing down on me. I felt the spiritual heaviness of our conversation, the anger fueling this guy’s words, the weight of our broken world and my broken self.
All that’s to say:
There’s no problem in seeking out the truth of a matter. There’s no wrong in studying the Bible. It’s awesome!
Your relationship with Jesus is your greatest treasure.
No amount of wisdom or knowledge can compare with your relationship with Jesus.
No truth about a conspiracy or a fact proven or a Biblical mystery discovered will ever fill your soul nearly as much as the gospel can.
Nothing. Nothing is more important than the gospel and your relationship with Jesus. Nothing.
I say that with all my heart. Because it’s taken me years of pain and confusion to understand that.
John 15:4-5 says, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. ‘I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
1 John 2:3-6 says, “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”
Search for truth, be open-minded, pursue wisdom. But if your pursuit of truth and wisdom does not flow out of your relationship with God, it will leave you feeling empty.
And to be clear, I’m not saying faith > facts. Both play their part in our relationship with God. And I’m not claiming I know better than the couple we talked with. But I know I know so little and I am so finite and sinful that to believe I know the answer to everything would be a prideful lie. I cannot say I’m enlightened about our government and our world and the church and every darn thing in the Bible anymore. But I can say this:
Jesus Christ is my king, my best friend, my God, my savior, my everything.
And that is enough.