Many of you will know that I have called myself a ‘Christian’ for a long time – but there is an obvious difference between someone who calls themselves a Christian and someone who really is one. A Christian is someone who has turned from rebelling against God – living their own way – to instead, living for him. That wasn’t me for a long time.
Though I’d grown up in a church, there were no clear indicators in my life that would have pointed to the fact that I lived for God. Pretty much all the way to year 12, I chased popularity, success, acceptance – because they gave me a taste of what feeling good could be like. It’s very true that having those things would’ve made me happy – but I could never have them completely. It was always an endless chase of getting ‘enough’ of it in attempt to make myself feel good and be at rest.
While all those things were happening in my life, I was also going to church and hearing things about Christianity and all that. The whole Christian message and Jesus and the reasoning and implications were all so ‘right’ and I knew as basic facts that God was there, there was something wrong, and that I had some sort of obligation to put my trust in him. But I was always worried about whether I’d put enough trust into Jesus – sure I thought that Jesus was a real person and God, and that the arguments for the necessity of an objective moral legislator were compelling, but I was still constantly worried whether I had put enough trust in him.
Through all this, I kept living my own way and I kept going on with the chase of trying to get enough and finally being satisfied – after all, by this point, I found that there was no good reason to live for God since I wasn’t sure whether I had put enough trust in him such that I was accepted by him.
Being the person I was, I tried to solve my problem through two main ways. The first one was apologetics, and the second one was evangelistic events.
Apologetics is a fancy word that means defending the Christian faith by argument. Especially after early high school, I knew that the Christians were right – in all the moral and intellectual debates, they were right. Yet apologetics didn’t help me at all. The fact that I believed the Christians were right didn’t solve the issue of whether I’d put enough trust in Jesus. So I turned to my second attempted solution – evangelistic events.
Many of you will be well acquainted with events like RICE Rally or KYCK. These were fancy events. Big crowds, big music, big Christians. I’m not the type to get caught up in hyped up environments. At the end, I’d always look at all the people walking out who said they’d decided to follow Jesus, – and they’d say something after like ‘Today I put my trust in Jesus’ and be crying or something like that and I was just like, “When is this going to happen to me? Why can they appear to trust Jesus so well while I can’t?”
It never happened to me. I never ended up walking out of an evangelistic rally crying or anything like that. Instead God had decided to work in a very different way to fix my problem.
Very early last year in bed, before and after going to sleep, I decided to have a read of a pdf by John Piper on the topic of the Five Points of Calvinism. The Five Points are – generally – about God’s role in how we put our trust in Jesus, and one thing it emphasises is God’s complete control over it. I originally thought this was a pretty messed up idea – that God would predestine some people to go to Heaven and other people to suffer forever in Hell.
But one of the points made a good point. One of the supporting verses was from Romans 3: There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away. The Bible here isn’t an exaggeration of what people are like – and what I was like. I was like my own little god trying to run away from God and I would have never one day, out of my rebellion, gathered enough ‘trust in Jesus’ inside myself to suddenly trust Him.
Instead, as the rest of the points laid out, it was only by God’s power and his saving intervention that I would be able to begin and continue to trust in Him.
A common way that I described it to people at the time was that if some people had a time machine they’d do it for different things. If they were a historian maybe they’d go back in time to see the World Wars. If they were a scientist maybe they’d go forward to see flying cars. But after knowing God’s control over how he had intervened while I was in my rebellious state to enable me to put my trust Jesus, I felt like I didn’t have to go anywhere in time – because I knew eternity from start to finish.
I was able to put my trust in Jesus, I didn’t suffer with being on the chase for more popularity, success, acceptance and to have ‘enough’ of all those things. I was satisfied and was at rest knowing that the progression of history from start to finish is centred on Jesus who’d died to defeat suffering and death. He was raised the ruler of the world and by God’s power, I was able to be turned from my rebellion and instead have my trust in him.