You can read Part I of the Foundation series by clicking here.
“Do you think you’re a good person?” Matt asked. We were sitting in Denny’s restaurant enjoying late-night French fries. I’d had a crush on Matt for months, and this impromptu dinner following our Toastmaster’s meeting was the closest we’d come to being on a date. Sensing a trap but too intrigued to back down, I answered him.
“Mind if I ask you a few questions to see if that’s true?”
“Go for it.” I popped a fry into my mouth and licked the remaining salt off my fingers.
“Have you ever told a lie?” he asked.
“What does that make you?”
“A liar.” I said, drawing the word out, as if talking to a child.
Undaunted, he continued. “Have you ever stolen anything?”
“What does that make you?”
“A stealer.” I said, unwilling to relinquish my childlike tone.
His cheeks dimpled. “It makes you a thief.” he corrected.
I tried not to blush.
“Okay,” he continued, “One more. Have you everlooked at a guy and lusted after him?”
Was he serious? Did he not notice me at all? My stomach flip-flopped. “I have.” I admitted. When I dared to look at him, his face looked sad and his eyes were dulled by compassion.
“By your own admission you are a lying, thieving, adulterer at heart, and we have only looked at three of the Ten Commandments.” He braced his palms against the edge of the table and leaned forward. Our eyes locked. “If you were to be judged by the Ten Commandments on Judgment Day, would you be innocent or guilty?”
“Guilty.” I whispered.
I was thirty-six years old when my friend Matt confronted my sinful nature. At the age of fourteen, I was a victim of modern-day evangelism. This is when well-intentioned people share Jesus with you, but fail to talk about sin.
Grace means nothing to a person who does not know he is sinful and that such sinfulness means he is separated from God and damned. It is therefore pointless to preach grace until the impossible demands of the Law and the reality of guilt before God are preached.
It was indeed pointless to ask if I believed Jesus was the only Son of God, or if I understood He died upon a cross so I could go to heaven. At fourteen, I had no understanding of my sin; nor, did I understand God’s law and its impossible demands. Without these understandings, I could never garner the significance of Jesus being without sin, or the importance of Him being the Savior. Having never been truly converted, I abandoned my faith before turning fifteen. Then, I wasted the next twenty years searching for spiritual truth.
I didn’t stop believing in Jesus, but to me, he was just another person I could learn from; like I could learn from Scientology leaders, New Age Gurus, and Wiccan priestesses. I read every self-help book I could get my hands on, practiced meditation and yoga, and adhered to a code of moral relativism. In case you’re wondering, the official name for this eclectic approach to spirituality is called pluralism. I was a bona fide pluralist. And Matt was the only person who ever bothered to call me out on it.