Column: What’s Missing, Part 4

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After 30 years away from church, one day I arrived back in church.

And something clicked.

Suddenly and unexpectedly, I became very serious about figuring out why Jesus mattered, because suddenly and unexpectedly He did.

My reaction to the message of faith, hope and love (1 Corinthians 13) being preached that Sunday 14 years ago was quiet tears. Larger than squishy emotion, larger than wonderful preacher Russ Blowers’ words, was a flame that lit in my soul.

All of a sudden I was a Christian, and what was missing from me at that moment was any knowledge of what that meant.

So, I came back the next week, and the next, took a “new Christian” class, began reading, really reading, the Bible, was baptized, started going to worship on Sunday and Bible study on Wednesday, became more and more involved in prayer, study, reflection, reading and church ministries which continues to this day.

Was I a better person? No. We are all sinners, in or out of church. There are thoughtful people who do good things who do not believe in Christ, and there are pious multitudes of bad eggs nested inside the church doors. And multi vice versa. I get it.

But even a sinner can take Christian learning and relationship seriously, and I have. Along my way, I’ve noticed some often-missed faith-life truths. For example:

In my Episcopalian youth, I got the “church service” thing but not the relationship-with-Jesus thing. Standing liturgies (written church services) provide a sureness of conformity and a splendidness of words. But beware not to miss the richness of human creativity and divine relationship one experiences by reading the Bible first-hand and praying personal prayers.

During those 30 non-church years I experienced plenty of “big” things that surely enhanced life’s meaning. But I missed entirely that the biggest of all “big” things is the Creator God Himself, and that all meaning resides in His creative, redeeming Son Jesus. The births of our children and great career moments are big, but nothing is as sure, as promising, as glorious, as hopeful or as long-haul significant as Jesus Christ.

And what’s missing from today’s Evangelical church? There exists little appreciation for church history and scant respect for church traditions the liturgy so ably protects. Christian history predates Billy Graham, C.S. Lewis, the Great Awakenings, the Protestant Reformation and the Great Schism of Catholicism and Orthodoxy.

There exist 2,000 years of depth – of thought, freedom and creativity – that prove to me this Jesus thing is supremely important; that it is life itself.

My prayer is that nobody misses it.

Walters (rlwcom@aol.com) focuses first on the Person of Christ. Get that, and you’re not going to miss much.

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