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“If I am who I say I am, serve Me with all your heart.”

Those words were spoken by a preacher trying out for the position of pastor. He had delivered a message at the evening service in a small church in a little town in central Washington State. The service was ending. He had given an altar call, and a few people were heading forward. I had gotten up to leave and was standing by the back door of the sanctuary which led to a modest foyer. I felt that I didn’t need to go down front because the Lord had previously done some amazing, merciful, sovereign things in my life to make Himself known to me. I therefore considered myself a Christian, although a considerably unknowledgeable one.

Before the pastor delivered this one-sentence command, he had spoken in tongues. He then interpreted, which he should have done according to guidelines in First Corinthians 14:27-28. When the man spoke those few, simple words, I was impacted so strongly that it was as if I had been hit by a spiritual sledgehammer. No, I wasn’t physically knocked down. I was spiritually overwhelmed. It’s difficult to explain, but those who have had similar experiences will understand. That sovereign call was the nail in the coffin of my old life. That was it. I would serve Jesus with all of my heart. I’d been questioning and wondering about Christian truths, but now there was no longer any question. After that evening, I cut my hair, forsook all vestiges of a life characterized by sin and a murky soup of Eastern religion and mysticism, and eventually left the small town for a city hundreds of miles away. After I arrived, I was homeless for a while but ended up renting an apartment with the guy who had first talked to me about Jesus.

Two years later, I had been hired by a church as an administrative assistant. I lived next door to the parsonage in a house they were using as offices, slept in one of the bedrooms, and ate with the pastor’s family. Following that I married a wonderful Christian woman, a former Lutheran.

Those early days were wonderful. Simple. I believed Jesus truly was who He said He was. To me at the time, that meant He was the Savior who had been born of a virgin and willingly sacrificed His life, shedding His blood so I could be forgiven and born again.

That was true then, and it is true now. Really, that is enough. Ask the thief on the cross who believed in Jesus and ended up in Paradise a few hours later. However, as I matured in my walk with Jesus, Christian truth became richer, deeper, and fuller.

I learned in those early days that Jesus said He was the life. I believed that in a faithful but vague way in those early years. Of course, He was life. He had given me spiritual life, and I had become a new person. However, now I understand that there is no life anywhere outside of Jesus. None. He is life itself—true, essential, eternal life. Everything else is dead or dying. People without Jesus are experiencing death because sin brings death. I don’t write that to condemn. It’s just the truth. That’s just all there is to it. People without Jesus may make money, raise children, laugh, sing, rise, or fall, but it is all leading to eternal, lifeless failure and judgment.

Jesus said He was the truth. Again, yes, I faithfully believed that in a simple way for many years. But I have learned that Jesus is the only truth—the only eternal truth. We may know how many times a hummingbird flaps its wings or the circumference of a circle, but both that beautiful animal and geometry as we know it will end.

“If I am who I say I am, serve me with all your heart.” Yes. He is who He says He is, and Christians will not entirely plumb the depths of that truth until they encounter Him after they die. I dread the certainty of any other outcome. If you are an unbeliever, you should, too.

Gif courtesy Bing images.

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