A short personal history might help the reader understand the context of my thoughts. My father pastored several evangelical churches for more than 45 years, so I spent my entire childhood in that environment. At 16 I rejected that way of life and left home to follow my dreams. After achieving success in everything I chose to do, I was still unfulfilled and empty. At the age of 26, I surrendered my life to Christ and re-entered the community of faith. I quickly became an avid student of the Bible and eventually held numerous leadership positions in a large evangelical church. Concurrent with being an Elder and Sunday School teacher, I was active with several para-church organizations that emphasized evangelism and discipleship.
My knowledge of Scripture, along with being asked to give leadership to these ministry opportunities, caused me to consider myself spiritually mature. I was as committed, disciplined and dedicated as anyone I knew, but that had produced in me unrecognized feelings of self-sufficiency and spiritual pride. An extended series of God ordained circumstances and conversations caused me to wonder if I was experiencing all that life in Christ had to offer.
Like most people who will read these thoughts, I had learned more theology than the Apostles knew. They didn’t have the inspired teaching of Paul about salvation by grace, Spiritual gifts or the Second Coming of Christ. They didn’t have the unfolding of future events from the vision given to an elderly John on the Isle of Patmos. While they didn’t have Romans, Corinthians, the Revelation, etc., they had something that was more vital and dynamic than many of us who do have these teachings. My salvation wasn’t in doubt, but I began to think about the possibility that while I knew more information than they did, they knew Jesus in a way that I had not yet discovered.
So like Paul the Apostle, I decided that, “whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ”…and…”I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ” (Phil 3:7-8). In a symbolic and metaphorical sense I held all my knowledge and doctrinal convictions in my cupped hands. I lifted my hands to God saying, “I will trade all of these for knowing Jesus like the Apostles knew Him.” It seems clear to me now that the Lord took me at my word and began a process that continues until the present.