Twenty two years ago this past Sunday, I committed my life to Christ. On that Sunday morning, I heard the Gospel and responded by walking to the front of the church, shaking the Pastor’s hand, and repeating a prayer. That day my life changed, but not in the same way that I thought it would. I knew I’d be going to church, and I’d probably give up some old habits eventually. I understood that my eternal destination had now been determined (even if others weren’t so sure about me). But with the benefit of hindsight, I can now say that these last 22 years have been a spiritual roller coaster. And in an effort to make sense of it all, I’ve come up with 3 things that I now know that I didn’t know on that day.
1. Jesus is Lord. Like many Christians, I read the common salvation formula from Romans 10:9-10 “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” But what I didn’t fully appreciate was what that confession really means. I accepted Jesus as my savior. “Lordship” had to grow on me. Now, I look at it as Jesus is master and I am his slave. That’s what Lord means. Earlier in Romans, Paul pointed out that we had been slaves to sin (6:17) but now we are slaves to God (6:22). My voluntary confession that Jesus is Lord gave Him the right to tell me what to do, and then make me do it!
2. God is Love. But thankfully, my new master is not like the old one. My old life was leading me to destruction. But like Lionel Richie says, “Jesus is Love” (so did the Apostle John in 1 John 4:16). You might say God is a benevolent Master. But the best way to look at it is that He is our Father. So although He is my master and I am bound to serve Him; He leads me as my Father. His orders are always for my own good.
3. Church is School. I’ve often heard the analogy that church is like a hospital where people go to get well. But I think the closer (and more Biblical) analogy is that of a school or a school system. The great commandment says we are to go and make disciples and then teach them what Christ has taught us. (Matt 28:19-20). Well, disciples are students. We all are students, trying to learn about life as a Follower of Christ. Some of us are kindergartners – we are just playing. Many are in elementary level – learning the fundamentals. Too many are Jr High students – immature, emotional, and full of drama. Others are in high school – think we know everything, but doing more work. And unfortunately, some are drop outs – refusing to go to school at all. No matter what level, we are all students. We are all learning.