I became a Christian in September of 1994, 12 years ago (sorry about the misnomer in the title). Today's sermon and Keith's blog got me thinking about where I'm at a dozen years later.
Life is certainly different...
...although not completely in good ways.
When I was a new Christian, I was totally assured. I knew what I believed and had reasons why. It wasn't until I got my first hit of exegetical theology that I started to doubt things and test things and fret over my status (a) as a orthodox church member (b) as a Christian. My first experience was in a Sunday School class in an Omaha CMA church, where the teacher (whose name I cannot recall) told us that the story of Balaam in Numbers was the first time in history one ass spoke to another. The next week, for reasons I couldn't understand at the time, he apologized for his remarks. He also introduced me to eschatology, which was, as he put it, the study of "S"s. The eschatology was dispensational premillennialism, which I held from 1994 till about 1998, when I became a postmillennialist for a short period, and then in 1999 through 2002 I was a "full" preterist. All of these positions (except for the last, but its status changes in ecclesial circles everyday) are considered orthodox. I studied and "approved" them all, until my faith in preterism was shaken by a combination of anti-dualist Dutch theology and NT Wright's work on the resurrection. Now I find it hard to say anything at any time. This isn't even going into my deeper, more intense, more painful Christological studies which have been with me ever since I picked up a small book by Wright (quite by Calvinist chance) called "The Challenge of Jesus".
There are many days in which I want to say "I love the Lord Jesus and that is all that matters." But I always need another hit, another high followed by depressing lows. Some days I can ignore the impulses totally; most days I find myself doing lines of Psalms. But I find everyday that this love-hate relationship with theology and the Bible often clouds the real issues: am I a more God-glorifying Christian now than I was when I first started? Or are those cymbals and gongs going off in the background? If I know every jot and tittle of the Scriptures, but ignore my neighbor, am I really loving God? But how can I truly love my neighbor without first knowing the Scriptures?
One of my friends who is Eastern Orthodox was shown me that many E.O. prayers have the phrase "Lord have mercy" interspersed throughout. I find myself using that phrase more and more each day.
Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy.