I went to a private Christian college. Bibles were text books and Jesus was a professor. Every class started with prayer. Week night curfews were midnight, and weekend curfews were 12:30am. Maximum “PDA” allowed on campus was holding hands. “Ring by Spring” was a mantra among female students and nearly every male student was either a missions or pastoral major. It was a breeding ground for… crazy.
But for all intents and purposes, it was an incredible academic experience and I’m grateful to have been educated in such an institution. The difference between knowing God and walking with Christ became clear, and I chose the latter. Looking back, one of my favorite classes was Basic Apologetics. Two semesters of it was required for students upon graduation.
Everything was covered from theology to philosophy to politics to economics to current social trends in music, movies, and media. No stone was left unturned. And, for most subject matter, there was always a portion of the class that was dedicated to open discussion among peers.
There were several noteworthy days in that class that I recall with some clarity, but there is one specifically that stands out more vividly than the rest.
Professor Honeycutt posed this question–“How will you know who you will marry? How will you know what job you should take when you graduate? How will you know which house or car is really the best choice for you and your family? How will you know what you are really supposed to be doing with your life? How will you know?”
The class of 500 students sat still and quiet. And because the same question had plagued me relentlessly since I had graduated from high school, I started tearing up. I have no idea, man! That’s why I’m here! I thought to myself. I sank in my chair as I realized that all the answers I had come to college to find would not be uncovered. I had been deceived. I had been led to believe that college would fill in so many blanks; shed light in the darkness; bring reason to seeming disarray, and ultimately, tell me who I was. I want my money back, please, I thought as I sat waiting for the professor to answer his own question. Finally he spoke.
“Let me make this easy on you. If you love the Lord above all else; if you seek His will above yours; if your heart’s desire is more of His heart; if your hope and faith is in Christ, His free gift of grace and the power of His resurrection; and if you savor His word, then… do what you want.”
*blank stare* Blasphemy! I thought. I didn’t pay for this kind of hedonism! Do what I want? Where does it say that in the Bible, huh?
He went on to explain, using countless biblical references, just how the heart and soul of a person who comes to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ is transformed– made new and made different, from the inside out. The life giving power of grace, the freedom that comes with faith, and the relationship with God that blooms as a product of complete surrender, brings about a new heart, new desires, and a mind that is renewed by the Holy Spirit.
Life is no longer a reaction to the world or sin. Rather, life in Christ is a response to a good and gracious God, a sovereign Lord that rules and reigns as He pleases. And as His subjects, we learn to want what He wants. We learn how to speak as He does, with truth in love. We learn to love like He does, unabashedly and unconditionally. We become more like Him as we seek and find Him.
We can’t help it. We are overcome. We must give way. It’s just like breathing.
Inhaling is necessary, just like grace. You breath deep, filling your lungs with oxygen, the life to your blood. Exhaling releases what your body did with that oxygen– it is the action that completes the process of breathing.
To accept grace demands that you release it through your actions. To drink deeply of the grace that has been lavished on you necessitates that you release what grace did.
Grace saved your soul. Grace accepted you when no one else would. Grace redeemed you when on one else could. Grace loved you when no one else wanted to.
And the beauty of grace is this– there’s no payment required. All God asks for is your whole-hearted acceptance.
And that changes everything.