In 1990, just prior to commencement of College, I received Jesus as Lord and Savior. Naturally, I became active in context of a congregation of fellow students who fellowshipped together on campus.
In context of that specific campus fellowship, and it’s network of fellowships on campuses across the country, I went on to hold several leadership positions. All of those leadership opportunities were thrust on me. Even then, my faith in Jesus Christ was too precious to me to be considered a platform for politics of positioning for offices in Church.
Even as a young novice Christian, I had a strong sense that Church was too sacred a context for shameless politicking for office.
The sad reality of course, is the fact that politicking for office, which transpires in context of Church is, perhaps, pursued about as shamelessly as in every other context of life. But then, that is not Jesus being deficient, that is people seeing the Church in terms of dollars and cents, as opposed to in terms of love and worthiness.
Church being made up of all kinds of people, in presence of leadership whose primary motivation is not Love for Christ, Church has potential to devolve into the very worst sorts of spiritual equilibriums.
Right about now, the picture I paint sounds pretty rosy. You perhaps then begin to think, here yet again is another Christian with the Choir Boy Christian experience.
But now comes the not-too-glorious part, which is, during my first three years in College, even while I held leadership positions, even while I had assurance of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ, I did not have any sense of the spiritual reality of Jesus Christ.
It is not that I doubted that I was saved. I had the peace of salvation, I studied the Scriptures pretty much daily, prayed regularly, fellowshipped with other Christians, and taught the Scriptures to other believers. Yet, while I lived right, it did not seem as if once I stepped outside of my College Room that there was any spiritual reality activated by the time I just spent in prayer, or the time I just spent studying the Scriptures.
If Jesus is real, should I not have some sense of spiritual reality of His Person, or some spiritual token of His relationship with me, I wondered?
Being a major in Pure Mathematics in College, I reasoned that if I believed my faith to be well founded, if I believed Jesus to be who He really claimed to be, that the problem could not be with Jesus, that the problem had to be that there was something I was missing.
Not that there was something wrong with me, but that there was a piece to the puzzle of what it means to have faith in Jesus Christ that remained missing. Not knowing where to begin my quest for knowledge of what was missing, and not having mature Christians around who seemed to have reality of what it was that I was missing, I simply held on to my faith in Christ, and bided my time.
Just because a piece to a puzzle remains missing does not imply that the puzzle does not have any meaningful value.
Sometime in 1993, I stumbled across the book, ‘True Spirituality’ by Francis Schaeffer. I bought the book right before my Dad scolded me about spending too much of my money on books. Last he checked, I also could use some shirts and shoes.
After all, Jesus’ garments were of such a high quality, Roman soldiers were willing to cast lots for it.
As I progressed in my reading of ‘True Spirituality’, I realized that I had stumbled on something that was extremely useful, on a book that could provide answers to yearnings that filled my mind about spiritual reality of faith in Jesus Christ. I would go on to find the answer to my most immediate pressing question, which was, “Why exactly did I not have any sense of spiritual reality of Jesus Christ? Why was it that spiritually speaking, I still felt alone”
Francis Schaeffer expounded beautifully and richly on the principle that it was up to me to act like I believe that Jesus is real, and to act as if all Jesus did for me while He was on earth, all of which was done in time, space, and history is as real as the fact that America gained independence from the British in 1776. This truth hit me like a brick. For days, while I was on holidays, and while I sought to arrive at deep meaning of the teaching in True Spirituality, I meditated deeply in context of a pacing, at about 4.00 am in the morning, of the dining and living rooms of my parents’ house.
So then, what was it that I had been missing? Well, I had held my faith as somewhat of a virtual token, as something that I believed, primarily because I was convinced that I needed Jesus for arrival at freedom from guilt of my character imperfections, and for perfecting of my character.
Back then, my belief that Jesus is who He says He is commenced with a couple of reasonings. First, when the Holy Spirit asked that I evaluate myself with respect to sins of the spirit, such as incapacity for loving of others, honesty implied I had to respond that I, in fact, was deficient. Enter then Jesus who promises in the Scriptures that He ‘can’ remedy my deficiency; ‘can’, as opposed to ‘will’, because, absent my active cooperation, He would not engage with me on the objective.
Given the only item in doubt about Jesus was His resurrection, in presence of the sort of life that the disciples of Jesus lived, evidence for which exists outside of the Bible, I reckoned the evidence was sufficient foundation for a leap of faith. The least I could do then was trust that Jesus indeed did resurrect, then evaluate the evidence as I went along.
Francis Schaeffer helped me arrive at the realization that if my faith was to produce the sort of spiritual reality that I felt was missing, that I could not relate to my faith as some sort of virtual token, as a ‘freedom from guilt certificate’, and an He’s going to help me fix myself expectation. Using, in entirety, Christian Scriptures, he helped me realize that I needed to consider the birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ to be historical reality, to be real, to have real tangible meaning.
Francis Schaeffer helped me realize that the problem was, all along my focus had been on my needs, that rather I needed to focus on reality of the Person of Jesus, and reality of what He already had accomplished in my behalf.
The moment I arrived at an understanding of the difference between ‘how I saw my faith’, and ‘how I needed to see my faith’, I knew that I had hit on the gold mine that I felt had been missing. From that moment on, my faith no longer was like a virtual token, rather it was something that had taken on life in my mind.
My mind felt different, my mind felt like a piece of the puzzle had dropped in place.
When your mind is focused on yourself, you cannot at the same time create room for experience of reality of person of Jesus Christ.
I did not know it then, but just because I now was freed in my mind did not imply that I also had become free in my spirit. But that is a story for another day.
If you desire that your faith in Jesus Christ produce some meaningful spiritual reality, in your mind, you have to consider the birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ to be as real to you as existence of the sun.
What then about my deficiencies, such as incapacity for loving of people who seemed not to love me?
Well, Jesus proved that His life in me is as real as the Scriptures assert. Over time, I have arrived at capacity for loving a total stranger, much as if I had known such a person ever since I was a child. In presence of the reality of the promise that He would help me overcome my incapacity at love, I have found assurance of reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
When I coached an amateur soccer league consisting of, inclusive of my second son, 7-year olds, whom I only met on the soccer field, it was evident that parents, who by nature have become skeptical of love for their children from strangers, somewhat were perplexed.
When you are helped by Jesus, two hours on a soccer pitch every week for 8 weeks can reveal to people that you truly care about their children. But then, that skepticism about strangers kicks in, and they wonder whether it is too good to be true.
True Love is not achieved at expense of a striving for excellence. During the soccer season in question, those kids and I went undefeated.
No amount of debate can prove that Jesus really did resurrect. Just because the probability that He resurrected must be regarded to be greater than 50%, is not proof that He resurrected.
Why is the probability of resurrection of Jesus Christ greater than 50 percent?
Time is dichotomized by the birth of Jesus Christ.
Jesus was the first philosopher to truly teach and practice equality of all men. Development of formal education as an opportunity open to all — the equality principle — is rooted in faith in Jesus Christ. Harvard University, Yale University, and Princeton all started out as seminaries. Absent people who truly believed in Jesus Christ, there would not be any such thing as a Middle Class, or Upper Middle Class, both of which are facilitated by formal education, anywhere in the world.
Without Christians lifting a sword to threaten anyone, within 300 years, the entire Roman Empire, the same empire that beheaded Apostle Paul, that, under Emperor Diocletian outlawed Christianity in 303 AD, had by 325 AD become, in entirety, a Christian nation.
No other religion ever has achieved such a feat — arrival at State Religion in a region within which the religion did not originate. The uniqueness of the achievement measures up to the uniqueness of the claim.
The only incontrovertible evidence for resurrection of Jesus Christ is fulfillment of His promise that if, as a teenager, I were to give Him the opportunity, if I were to cooperate with Him, that He could fix my lovelessness, my anger, my lack of peace, my desire to fit in with the crowd, and my lack of joy.
On all of those counts, Jesus has proved to be more than real.
So then, if He is able to do what He has promised, by backward induction, and in so far as it relates to my faith, His resurrection is real in my life.
How exactly does a fraud help you overcome lovelessness, anger, lack of peace in the mind, the adolesecent, ‘desire to fit in syndrome’, and joylessness?
Who commits fraud only so those whom He deceives arrive at happiness, peace of mind, and joy?
If you did not have such things to deal with at any point in your life, well then, I guess I needed Jesus more than you did.