A spirit of fear…

Ever been to a baptist youth camp?  There’s a running joke within the church world about the last couple days of one of these week-long retreats: the Do-You-Know-That-You-Know-That-You-Know question:

“If on the way home from this retreat tomorrow, your van got into a car accident and you didn’t make it, do you know that you know that you know that you know that you know that you’re goin’ to heaven?”

A valid question.  Macabre, perhaps, but valid.  But it’s as if the youth leaders & counselors at these events have forgotten how permanent the bond between God and His children is.  John 10:29 (The Message): “The Father who put [my flock] under my care is so much greater than the Destroyer and Thief.  No one could ever get them away from Him.” Basically: once saved, always saved.

But what’s their motivation for these questions?  Did someone guide them through the “Sinner’s Prayer” and either forget or mix up a couple words?  Was their conversion based purely on the emotions they were feeling at the time due to the worship music?  Were they just trying to impress the cute boy or girl next to them and praying for them?  There’s an air of dread in their hearts and minds, and if this child ends up not going to heaven it’s all their fault.  So they backtrack, they prod and question with the relentless mantra: “Do you know that you know that you know???”

Fear.

Fear of the powerful hand of a mighty and jealous God.

Fear of the desperate and judging eyes of the parents of each of these kids for not doing enough.

Fear of the reality of hell.

I picked up Craig Groeschel’s most recent book The Christian Atheist during the Leadership Summit.  I’ve only gotten about twenty pages in and I’m already unsettled by how we as the church have so often misrepresented the Gospel, how we’ve completely missed the point of knowing Christ and what it means to follow Him.  The subtext of the book’s title sums it up perfectly: believing in God but living as if He doesn’t exist.

It’s like living next to a pond with the clearest, purest and most revitalizing drinking water on earth and never drinking from it.  You just set your little plastic lawn chair up right next to a big painted sign that reads “FREE WATER, TAKE AS MUCH AS YOU LIKE,” and you plop yourself down in your little chair, proud to stake your claim that this is where you call home in spite of never having tasted the water from the pond.

I’m thirsty.  I’ve been in this desert for long enough, and I’ve decided to keep looking for oasis after oasis until I finally hike between the mountains and cross the Jordan.  When I find that pond, I want to drink and drink and drink as if my life depended on it… because it does.  I want the courage to keep going back to it, constantly refreshing my body, my soul.  I don’t want to live as if I’ve already done enough, because I never could do enough to sustain my own life.

I want to live a life that not only says my God exists, but He is the very reason I exist.

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