Every so often, I find myself daydreaming about the St. Alban’s youth mission trip to southern Mississippi. I will be writing something or driving somewhere, and all of a sudden I am reliving a conversation I had with one of the kids. Now, because of who I am, the conversations I remember are the ones about Christianity, discipleship, Jesus, theology, etc.
One young person in particular has a keen sense of what’s truth and what’s malarkey. This individual and I were discussing heaven, hell, and God’s judgment of those who do not profess the Christian faith. Over and over again, she has been told by her friends, family, and teachers that good people go to heaven, bad people go to hell, and that anybody who doesn’t believe in Jesus will face everlasting contempt and judgment from God.
Yet as this individual was recounting this all-too-simplistic theology of “I hope I get to heaven,” I could sense how bodily uncomfortable this individual was. This young person was literally squirming with distaste as the words were being formed and spoken.
“Hmmmmmm….,” I thought, “something else is going on here.” And immediately I spoke my newest favorite phrase: “Have you read the New Testament?”
Of course, the squirming only got worse. “Well, no,” was the reply.
Sadly, this is the reply of so many across our country who profess to know Christ and follow him as disciples. Now I am not a biblical fundamentalist, but I am fundamentally attracted to the Bible. Now the Bible is not the absolute Word of God, but it points to the Word of God, who is Jesus. So if we don’t know what’s pointing to Jesus, how can we ever hope to know Jesus?