For the first 23 years of my life I thought I understood what Christianity was really all about.
I knew all the answers in Sunday School. I went to church twice every Sunday, and (usually) listened intently to the Biblical teaching. When I went to university I got progressively more and more involved in the Christian Union; by my final year I was a member of the team that organised our outreach events, and had earned a reputation for my keenness to be at the 8.30am prayer meetings every weekday.
But in the year after I left university, things changed.
Someone gave me a book called God Is The Gospel by John Piper. As a result of this book, I saw for the first time that the good news of Christianity is not just that our sins can be forgiven so we won’t spend eternity in hell, but the really good news is that, as a result of our sins being forgiven, we can spend eternity in a loving and joyful relationship with the God who created us for the purpose of displaying His immeasurable love by pouring it out on us.
For years previously, I’d been thankful to God that He’d paid for my sins on the cross so that I wouldn’t have to be punished, and I knew in theory that heaven was going to be a great place, not just because there would be no pain or sadness there, but because God would be there, but to be honest, God wasn’t what attracted me there. The main reason I wanted to go to heaven was that I didn’t want to experience the suffering I’d heard would await me in hell.
I believed all the right things about God, but I hadn’t actually tasted and seen for myself that the experience of knowing the God who created the universe, and having a loving relationship with Him, is the greatest joy we can experience.
I was afraid of what God might do to me for having broken His set of rules that are listed in the Bible, so when I believed my sins had been forgiven, out of gratitude I felt I had a duty to try to do better at obeying the rules, and I believed in theory that holiness would ultimately make me happy, but I hadn’t yet experienced the truth of that theory for myself; I just took other people’s word for it.
Now that I’m beginning to appreciate God as glorious in my own eyes, I hate breaking His law, not because I’m afraid I’ll face justice when I die, but because I love being in a relationship with the loveliest person in the universe, and as I recognise that His law expresses the loveliness of His character, for me to live by His law no longer looks like much of a duty, but actually like a really enjoyable thing to do. (For more on the attractiveness of obedience to God’s law, see my post on How God’s Grace Makes Us Just)
I called this page About the Author, but my hope is that, as you’ve read this, you’re not really too interested in the guy who writes this blog, but instead you’ve seen something of the Author of the history of the universe that perhaps you hadn’t seen before, and I pray that you’ll not just want to find out more about Him, but you’ll taste and see for yourself how glorious He is and experience the same joy that comes from knowing Him that I’ve started to experience over the last couple of years.
If you would like to look into this further, I’d recommend reading, most importantly, the Bible (probably start with the New Testament)… and as a couple of guides to start you off if you’re new to this sort of thing, try The Prodigal God &/or King’s Cross by Tim Keller and What’s So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey.