Hi, I’m Eric, a member of City of Hope. I’m one of several members who will be blogging here on a variety of topics. Why? On one level, we want to share the personal face of our church, but for me, I just like to write about my observations and thoughts. To begin, I thought it might be good to start with an introduction.
I’ve been with this church since almost the beginning, which is to say about four years. I’ve known Christ for six years; I still consider myself young. Here’s my story, “How Eric Met Jesus.”
I was baptized as an infant, raised Lutheran, and was Confirmed. I memorized the order of the books of the Bible and other simple facts. I don’t remember if I was ever taught the Gospel, beyond “Jesus loves you.” Shortly after Confirmation, I realized I “knew” lots of things, but I didn’t know how I know, or how to find out again for myself. It was kind of like knowing C=2πr, but not knowing how to mathematically prove that. So in an attempt to validate my beliefs, I started at ground floor and became an agnostic: does God exist?
I spent many years trying to mentally solve this with little success. I couldn’t come to any conclusion. Granted, I had no access to great thinkers on either side of the question, just my own mind. I settled on this tentative conclusion: I can’t prove God exists, but it sure is nicer living life believing He does. Call me an optimist.
Out of college and further removed from my fraternity, I began hanging out more with my best friend and his circle of friends. I immediately noticed something different about them, something very hard to describe. Some kind of light or spirit or joy. Of course, they were all from his church.
At one of his parties, I met a guy who liked to do in-depth Bible studies. This intrigued me, since all I had been taught were superficial “Bible stories,” such as “Adam and Eve,” “Daniel and the Lion’s Den,” and “Zacchaeus and the Sycamore Tree.” I surmised that if the Bible really were the Word of God, there should be an infinite depth to the Bible, digging deep and not finding a bottom.
So we began to meet once a week, this guy, my best friend, and I. After playing Halo and eating dinner, we went through the Gospel of John, about a half-chapter per week. My first real Bible study. I got to ask as many questions as I could think of. Throughout the week I’d think of even more questions.
It wasn’t long before the Gospel became abundantly clear to me. I recognized who I was, what I had done against God, who God is, and what He has done for me. Strangely, I strongly resisted this. I knew that if these things were true, I had no choice but to submit my life to the authority and rule of Christ the King. I mean, I didn’t have to, but I’d know I would be living a parody of life. At the same time, I didn’t like the cost: forfeiting my autonomy. My kingship over myself for life. Either or.
So I fought against the Holy Spirit’s pull on my heart. Somewhere along the way I ran into the “Sinner’s Prayer.” It’s what people in my situation are supposed to pray and become saved, so they say. I abhorred it. I somehow knew incanting these “magic words” wasn’t how God rolled.
Ultimately, the Holy Spirit’s tenacity won out. Over the course of a few weeks, I came around to God, submitting my life into His hands, hailing Christ my Lord, Savior, and Husband.
Huh? But Eric, you’re a dude. That’s right. Husband. The Bible does describe Christ as the husband to the global Church of Christians (Eph 5:25), but my experience closer resembles that of an arranged marriage: I am now in union with my Savior, He is obviously in charge now, I’m supposed to love Him, yet I hardly know Him. So I resigned myself to Him: as I get to know you better, Jesus, I’ll come to love you more.
Six years later, I am happy to say this is indeed the case, and as the love between golden anniversary couples continues to grow, I expect my love for my Lord will keep growing. Autumn 2004 was the greatest pivotal moment of my life of 32 years. That was the season that I was born into new life.