"I can't imaging going through [fill in the blank] if I wasn't a Christian."
Your answer for the blank may have been different from mine, but I think we would agree that we would not want to face trials or even an ordinary day without Christ. But what does that really mean when push comes to shove? What difference does it make being a Christian?
Does being a Christian mean I won't have any problems? Do I truly get my "best life now?"1
If being a Christian doesn't give me an automatic out from hardship, does God still love me? Is He with me? How do I know this? Is it a feeling of emotional well-being? But what if I feel nothing?2
You may be thinking, "Enough of the questions already." You may be answering my questions in your head. But what are your answers and, more importantly, what is the source of those answers?
For some of you, your answers came from the Scriptures. You took what the Bible said about God, His character, and His ways, and applied it to my questions. In short, the rubber of theology met the road of life. But sadly there is also a climate in Christendom which defines spirituality as "an experience devoid of doctrinal content and detached from any testable historical claims."3 "I don't need doctrine. I just love Jesus. Can't we just be practical?" And I was the poorer for this attitude.
I was a Christian for decades when I was blindsided by a trial. At that time, I was underfed, bordering on spiritual starvation. I read the Bible subjectively with myself as the main character, not God, but I was never taught how to study the Bible. I knew of Him secondhand, but I never bothered to test and examine those teachings for myself. So I passively absorbed whatever came down the pike. Consequently, there was no theological rubber to meet the road - more like bare rims scraping the asphalt. But in His mercy, God did not leave me malnourished. My family began to attend a local church where we were fed the Word and strengthened through the ordinary means of grace. I began to learn about the God I had confessed for years but didn't really know. My circumstances did not change, but I changed. Truth came to bear on my life, and this made all the difference in the world.
So please don't be afraid of theology. Please don't be afraid to open the Bible and stretch your understanding. We can learn about a God who is so great and yet condescends to save sinners. We can trace His faithfulness from Genesis 1 to the certain conclusion in Revelation 22. The truth of God found in His Word is an anchor for our souls and a feast spread before us. So let's dig in. What are we waiting for?
1. Romans 8:18; 2 Tim. 3:12; Matt. 5:10-12.
2. John 14:26-27; Psalm 46:1; Rom. 8:32-39; 2 Cor. 1:3-4; 1 Pet. 5:10.
3. Total Truth, Nancy Pearcey, Crossway, 2008, pg. 118.