In just a few days, we’re opening the doors of Spring of Life Church to the people of Portland, Oregon. I’ve been dreaming about this moment for ten years. We've planned 4 preview services for the month of July. We’re just trying things out to see how they go. We’re hoping to connect with people from lots of different backgrounds. We are promoting these services in the simplest way possible - through one-on-one Gospel conversations with people downtown. So far, in two and a half days, we’ve talked to 200 people.
We’ve heard 200 hundred stories from 200 individuals with unique points of view. In the past, there were times when I resisted conversations with non-believers because I was afraid I couldn’t answer all of their questions. When I felt this way, I was completely missing the point.
1. God is not a system - He’s a Person.
There are some people who treat God as if He’s a collection of ideas. People debate His attributes and form logical conclusions about what He must be like. People can accept or reject the idea of God in a manner that seems cold and clinical. I’m not arguing against the value of systemic theology. I just think with theology, it’s possible to talk about God like He’s not even in the room. There is a difference between learning about God and seeking His face. Both are essential.
I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.
- Proverbs 8:17
2. The pursuit of God is personal.
Jesus never claims that he merely teaches the truth. He claims that He IS the truth. This is a game changer. This means I can face hard questions and uncertainty, because I don’t face them alone. In high school, I had a few months of serious doubt regarding my faith. Rather than dealing with these alone, I brought my questions to God. I found that He was big enough for all of my uncertainty. Looking back, these were some of the sweetest times of intimacy with God. I wouldn’t trade them.
3. One day I will see God face-to-face.
One day I will leave this world, and all of eternity will become clear. It’s not just that I will finally have the answers. I believe that heaven holds the promise of a deeper knowledge. I believe there have been some undeniable moments in my life when I have had the privilege of experiencing this deep, resonant sense of knowing God. It has happened in times of deep grief, when God brought an incredible sense of peace that surpasses all of my understanding. It's happened in times of corporate worship, when a new found joy and connection to God flooded my heart. It's happened in quiet moments, when His still, small voice spoke directly to my heart. One day these beautiful glimpses will come into full view. Until then, I will live for that day.
4. God can stand up for Himself.
I stopped being afraid of talking to unbelievers when I realized that I didn't have to defend God. In fact, He is defending me. This is amazing. I used to feel that if someone bested me in a spiritual conversation, then somehow the heavens were shaken. Not anymore. I love when people raise questions I can't answer. Even though it's uncomfortable at times, I take them to God, Himself. I often find more than the answers - I find a better sense of understanding His heart. I've stayed in relationships with people who disagree with me. Some of them feel that people like me are the problem. It's not my job to change their mind. It's my job to love them in a real and personal way. It's been my greatest joy on some occasions to realize that God has placed a reservoir of love and compassion deep within my soul (a spring of Life). I can, in turn, give this love away. Sometimes, it's just as one-sided as the love God has given me. Caring for other people is fun. For a Christian, it's natural. People need to hear the truth, but they also need to see our love. Love given freely is our greatest apologetic.