Who would have imagined it? Who would have predicted that a girl who grew up in a home where the gospel was never preached, and the name of Christ was frequently used as a curse word would grow up to be a theolgoy nerd?
There was no interest in spiritual things in my childhood. For the Roman Catholic church, there was great antipathy, but no church even at Easter or Christmas. Belief seemed pretty unlikely. How could I believe upon someone I had never heard of?
Snippets here and there: attending Sunday school with a friend, hearing the creation story in a Kindergarten class, a teacher in 4th grade who said, "God loves you;" a Gideon who gave out bibles to a group of fifth graders.
And yet it was not enough.
Circumstances revealed need, revealed sin, revealed helplessness. Trials, questions, and doubts that assail most teenagers ;and still it was not enough.
I opened the pages of a burgundy leather bound bible to be confronted with my worst fear: you are not a Christian unless you have confessed Christ.
13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Rom. 10:13-15)
I needed to hear. I needed the Word of God. There is no salvation outside of faith in Christ, and the only way I could understand that was the revealed Word of God.
That was many years ago. When I was a child, there was still a greater chance that someone actually believed in God even if he didn't do much about it. It was palatable to hand out Gideon Bibles in schools; people still belived in truth and error. Today, a child can grow up in a home like mine, where God is never mentioned, but he won't ever find the end I found unless someone shares the word with him.
It is a popular notion to assert that the church, because it holds doctrinal positions it isn't willing to abandon, is chasing away the younger generation with its conduct. If a church won't be silenced about doctrinal truth which is dificult, it is labeled intolerant and ineffective. In this day of growing secularism, it is believed that we need more compassion, more help, more understanding to attract people to the church. And that is likely true.
But we still need the Word of God. We still need people who will proclaim it boldly. We need people who will say, "I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes." We need them desperately.
There are people everywhere with great needs; physical, emotional, and financial. But their greatest need is stil salvation from sin. We can assist an individual with every benefit possible need for food and shelter, but ultimately, if he's still separated from God by his sin, he's still in trouble.
There were any number of people who were kind to me when I was a teenager, isolated, bullied, and sad; the people I babysat for, my parents' friends, teachers, my relatives. And I drank in their encouragement and felt comfort in their love and support.
But it wasn't enough.
My heart was restless until it found its rest in God.
And how did I get that? From someone who knew I needed to hear.
May we who claim compassion for those who are weak and struggling remember that the gospel still needs to be proclaimed.