“I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault. I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.” (Philippians 3:6,7 NLT)
When we acknowledge where we used to be and what we used to do–without Christ–we begin to understand that our journey becomes our testimony.
Once upon a time–I used to mock anyone who attempted to tell me anything about the bible. I believed in God and that I would go to hell for doing wrong things, and I believed in prayer, but no one–had taught me the value of reading and understanding God’s Word for myself. This is what happens when a person “just goes to church as a child” but nothing is ever really taught or explained–and in my case–probably because those who were teaching could only teach what they knew.
This is the reality we must come to accept–we can only teach people what we know and anything beyond that–is incomprehensible. And Paul acknowledges that with all of his learning–about the law–he lived what he was taught–under the law, but when he comprehended the work on the cross, the law lost its value. Had he not recognized that the law could not do what the work on the cross did, we would not have his written testimony of God’s Grace through Jesus Christ as encouragement for us to live–to please God–not man!
Many of us can sit around boasting about the things, “we used to do” and come away with nothing other than laughter and reflection and often changing thoughts about those who “confessed their faults” and shortcomings. In order to encourage others to live–pleasing God–our boasting should be how we were once blinded to God’s truth and how we were brought into the light of the Jesus Christ. This should be our boast–from coast to coast–across oceans and seas–up the mountains and down in the valleys–that we were once lost, but now we’re found–in the newness of life with Christ Jesus!
So, when I think about how I used to scorn those who tried their best to get me to understand, I understand why there are those who reject what I have to say about God’s Word. If anyone one of those people–who tried to get me to understand the bible had ever asked me if I had read it, I would have shut up and had nothing to say. They didn’t ask me–they just kept pounding away, trying to nail understanding with a flimsy hammer that didn’t have enough weight to sink the nail into my impenetrable heart.
But I’ve learned–from my journey–from what I used to do to what now do–and I ask the question, “Have you read the Bible for yourself?” No two people can have an intelligent conversation about anything unless they both have some knowledge of the subject being discussed. I am intelligent enough to know this. Had I been asked–my “no” would have ended my mockery because I had no basis on which to intelligently discuss the bible. When people respond with a “no” to me, I suggest they read it first, then we can discuss it–with intelligence–even if we have differing opinions. End of conversation–no mockery, no foundation for intelligent discussion.
Perhaps, one of the problems with us trying to promote the Gospel and encourage others to live according to God’s Word is that we do not know how to acknowledge where we once were and what we used to do–before we read it for ourselves. We cannot continue to try to hammer The Word into people with just our experience; we must encourage them to read The Word (starting with the Gospel of John, hopefully), seek God for themselves and receive His love–developing a right relationship with Him. Then and only then will our “testimony” have meaning and we can be assured that others will walk in the light of Jesus Christ!
What did you used to do–before you found the Light and Truth?