“That’s all there is.”
I couldn’t believe it. Really?
I had become a believer the previous May, near the end of my freshman year in college. After spending a frustrating summer vacation back home, fending off my mother’s determined efforts to undermine my fledgling faith, I was finally back at school, eager to grow spiritually. Until two weeks prior to “accepting Jesus as my personal Savior,” I’d been a fervent atheist. I’d never even been to church. Now it seemed as if there was so much to learn about God! So I turned to the person who had answered my questions last spring.
“OK. I’m reading my Bible. I’m praying. Now what?”
And the answer came, “That’s it. That’s all there is.”
I was stunned. It was completely underwhelming. Surely there was more?
Now, 45 years later, I realize that there’s much more, more than I can ever discover in hundreds of lifetimes. With all the sermons, books, retreats, and Bible studies; having seen God at around the world on short-term mission trips; having experienced undeniable miracles—I’ve only scratched the surface of the depths of God.
Yes, the gospel is simple. Paul writes in Romans 10:9,
… if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved… .
(The word “believe” as used here means to entrust. It’s more than just an intellectual assent.) Becoming a Christian simply requires us to:
- Admit our failure to always obey God,
- Trust that Jesus paid for that rebellion when He submitted to the death penalty in our place, and
- Agree to submit to God’s authority from now on.
But living out the gospel is complicated. (It’s that “authority” bit that causes me to struggle.)
Yes, we continue to read our Bible. We pray. But that’s just the beginning. What we learn at church, or in our room with the door shut, has to be put into practice in the messy reality of life.
It’s as we go, working out our own salvation with fear and trembling (see Philippians 2:12), that God transforms us into Jesus’ image. We learn to listen to God’s voice, and to obey Him—when it’s a delight, and when He asks us to do something we’d rather not do. Or stop doing.
We learn the joy of His presence. We experience his love, and His persistence in coming after us when we try to run away.
We learn that without God, nothing matters, and that He’s everything we’ll ever need.
We have the incredible privilege of an intimate relationship with an omnipotent, omniscient, inexhaustible God. Getting to know Him will take all eternity.