I’m an inquisitive person.
Or maybe I’m just nosy.
I want to know things. I love to learn things….all sorts of things.
I am constantly researching something. Reading something. Making notes about something. I’ve always been this way. I suppose I always will be. It’s how I was wired.
I want to KNOW.
The same is true about religion. I ask a lot of questions. I seek a lot of answers. I do a lot of thinking, a lot of studying. A lot of “asking”.
And, before I was a follower of Christ, this was particularly true.
Oh, how I wanted answers to all of my questions. And they were the hard questions, too. Questions about God’s sovereignty. Questions about inconsistencies I thought I saw in scripture—and definitely inconsistencies I saw in people. People who proclaimed to be Christians. People who actually “preached” Christ.
Oh, how I struggled to find answers to my questions. In some instances, I asked the same question, over and over again, just in different ways. I sought out reading some of the leading theologians, top philosophers, asking questions of ministers, and eventually, reading Scripture.
Yeah, you read that last one right—I started to read Scripture.
And, you know what I found?
I wish I could tell you I found all the answers to my questions. I wish I could tell myself that! But that’s not what I found.
No, what I found was not a “what” at all. It was a “who”.
As I poured over the words of the Gospel of John, I found myself baffled. Who was this man, Jesus? Who was the Father, God? The words unfolded before me–was this truth? Was God real? And if God was real, was Jesus real? And was He God?
At first they were just words. But then those words began to work upon my soul, in a way no other words had before in my life. Something was different. Something was different about these words. Something was different about this God-Man. Something transformed this from being a religion to dissect, to question, to doubt, to fight, to argue about. Could this be something that was truth? Could this be something to believe in?
I recently finished reading a book by my favorite author, C. S. Lewis, that I hadn’t read yet. The title was The Great Divorce. In it, through allegory, Lewis explores the concept of heaven and hell. Well, not really the concept—the reality of it. Not that he purported to know what heaven or hell is really going to be like. But he quite smartly introduced wonderfully new thoughts about the subject for his readers to ponder.
One of my favorite quotes in the book, regarding what heaven is like, is the following:
“We know nothing of religion here: we only think of Christ.”
Wow. Yes. That is what I want–now–of my relationship with Christ. I want nothing to do with religion. Nothing. Because all religion does is leave me empty. Without hope.
But a relationship with Christ? That’s a completely different world. No, it doesn’t answer all my questions. I still have many. And I will keep right on asking and studying and learning.
But my relationship with Christ is just that–a relationship. With the God of this universe, who loves perfectly, forgives to the deepest depths, and provides the utmost hope.
I’ve done a fair bit of thinking and writing on this verse in Isaiah. I think after considering Lewis’ quote on knowing nothing in heaven of religion, and only thinking of Christ there, I understand it just a bit better tonight:
“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord,
“and my servant whom I have chosen,
that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor shall there be any after me.