When I Thought I Knew it All
Just your friendly neighborhood know-it-all.
Do you ever look back at situations in life and wonder "What was I thinking?"
I do, more than I care to admit. Life is about growth, and that's exactly what this message is about.
When I was 18 years old, I had already spent about two years as a ministry leader in my home church. I was also a Sunday school teacher and was attending my freshman year at a local Southern Baptist College. I was really good (if I must say so myself) at quoting Bible passages, verses and Biblical stories. I had worked Vacation Bible School for years and was a leader in my youth group. I had listened to more than my fair share of Contemporary Christian music, on repeat, and knew a lot of Hymns by heart.
I guess you could say, I knew Christianity like the back of my hand! (or at least the important parts that a Southern Baptist would.)
It was almost as if I had Christianity down to a science. (Well, a science that was sprinkled with Christian jargon. Words, that until this day, I still don't fully understand.)
You see, growing up in the church- and especially as a leader in the church- I felt as though I couldn't not know everything. Everyone else around me seemed to be so Biblically intelligent and all-knowing that it made someone like me feel like it was time to get my crap together. There was never any questioning of passages or sermons that were preached, and you never let anyone know that it took you longer than a second to flip to the passage.
In the context of growing up in the church, the Bible was literal, it was meant to be taken literal, and if you had any other thoughts in direct opposition of its teaching or questioning of what the Southern Baptist Convention had put in their big book of Baptist Christianity, well, let's just say it was off to hell with ya! (maybe a bit of exaggeration there... maybe.)
When I left the church that I grew up in to attend a ministry college in Australia, my mindset was that I would learn the practical side of running a ministry. You know, like how to talk to kids (as I was working towards being a Children's Pastor) or how to write a good sermon. As far as learning about the Bible, I knew for sure that I had the Biblical stuff down. My mind was really closed off to any ideas outside of my direct sphere of influence.
However, when I arrived at the new school, my mind was (slowly) opened to a foreign world--
A world were Christianity could be lived and not memorized.
Where questioning and further study was allowed.
A Christianity where I could have my own Spiritual revelations and my own journey with a God who is ALIVE, and not a God of just the Old Testament, or even New Testament, for that matter.
My God was no longer confined to ancient times, where advancements in human knowledge lacked. Where I only sang about raising ebenezers (and I still don't know what that means).
Now, new revelations were continuing to happen, daily.
For a long time, my Christianity was based on my knowledge. On my memorization of scripture. On having a Bible, at all time, in my backpack and writing off any thing that may interfere with church times on a sunday. It was baked in tradition with a glaze of ritual. It didn't feel personal, it felt like the Christianity of others.. others that had come WAY before me.
It was old, it was outdated, it was uncool.
It wasn't until Christianity became personal that I started realizing that the God that I had believed in as a "get out of hell" card, and the God that now inspired and motivated me to be a better person daily, were really two completely different things. My God was no longer waiting for me to screw up, to mess up, to condemn me to hell. NO, my God was sending a son to die for me, to give me second chances, to lift me up when I couldn't do it on my own.
He was a God to be relied on- not feared.
Looking back, I think it's wise to say, may we (I) never think we know it all. May we never close our minds off to growth and understanding. May we never sit under someone and listen to everything they say as truth-- without seeking it for ourselves.
Your spirituality is unique to you. Revelations are unique to you. And the speed of your growth, of your understanding, of your relationship with God is yours.
Seek, and you will find.