On March 23, 1997, I stopped running from a God I thought I knew everything about from my upbringing.
I grew up in church. I certainly knew it’s culture and teachings, but I didn’t really know Jesus. I knew about Jesus. I knew about Church history. I could quote you Bible verses. But I knew Jesus like a teenager who has watched other people drive, has played racing video games and has perhaps even memorized the drivers instruction manual knows driving. Or a fan who knows all about a celebrity he’s never met but it all amounts to trivia.
Maybe it’s that’s why it was so easy to uproot me from my childhood religious affiliation.
My reasons for leaving were myriad, but let’s just say that I was pretty much doomed to fall. You see, my foundation was a house of cards made up of church culture and Bible trivia. A strong wall of legalistic separationism was required to protect my “faith” from the panting winds of doubt. Inevitably, my house of cards fell down.
So for almost a decade, I existed as a foul-mouthed agnostic who was moralistic but certainly not Christian. It is customary for folks who grew up in Church to say they were backsliding or that they were prodigal, just as we say we’re rededicating our lives to God rather than saying we got saved. You can’t be saved again, after all; once saved, always saved… unless you believe in apostasy, in which case, once saved and don’t blow it! In either case, it’s frowned upon to say you were born again again.
I will tell you plainly that I was no prodigal, but I did suppose at first that I must be. I followed the convention of saying that I re-dedicated my life to God rather than saying I got saved. I still thought my childhood immersion into church culture counted. And to be quite honestly, I “got saved” many times as a child in part because I assumed I was just a kid last time. This time, it was serious, right?
I came to realize something. I was never saved back then. I couldn’t have been. No one who really knows Jesus could ever turn away from Him. The Jesus of the Bible (not necessarily the stained glass Sunday school version) is revolutionary, authentic and provocative. He challenged the legalists and liberals of His day by holding fast to the truth of Scripture while reminding us that grace and mercy are equal parts of that truth. Indeed, the Bible declares that grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. To walk in His steps is to reach out to the needy, to affirm the Scriptures, to preach the Gospel, and to rebuke sin, hypocrisy and dead legalism
Did you want to know how to fall down? Do you want to know how to let gift of the knowledge of Jesus Christ slip away from you? The answer is found, appropriately enough in John 6:66:
From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
Why? Well, if yiu read the rsst if the story, you find out that they’d got it into their heads that Jesus had come as a King to overthrow Rome. They got an idea of Jesus that wasn’t quite true. And when that idea didn’t pan out, they abandoned Him.
But they didn’t reject Him. Not really. They rejected a false idea of Him. Because they didn’t really know Him.
The question is: Do YOU know Him?