There is nothing more powerful than a chorus of voices lifting praise to God – well except God Himself. His presence was ever known that morning in the quaint New Life Fellowship Church in Holden, Missouri. Although a smaller community, their voices packed a large punch as Amazing Grace was sung.
“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound.
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I’m found.
Was blind, but now, I see.”
Sitting in a circle with complete strangers an hour before the pastor would take the podium, Proverbs taught me that I truly was a wretch saved by God’s Grace. As a UCM student attending this church to support the Central BSU, I was extremely familiarized with knowledge and its power. It was easy to understand that wisdom looks like learning. It made sense that knowledge was directly linked with the ability to retain information. As a semi-accomplished college student, I could not have had this concept more wrong. In that little church off the 4th street in Holden, I realized fearing God is the beginning of true knowledge. Hearing this, many would immediately quote Proverbs 1:7. This verse reads:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
The answer was right in front of my very eyes, yet I had missed it. How could my knowledge of knowledge have been wrong all this time? I went to church, participated in extra activities, and learned plenty from school and Bible studies. Why was this understanding lacking? After contemplating these questions, Chad, the Bible study leader seemed to bring clarity. Society is always giving us an excuse to sin “a little”. What we as Christians fail to acknowledge is that sinning “a little” is no different than sinning “a lot”. Sin is sin. Chad mentioned that we must have a unified approach in following the statutes that God has laid out before us. “When it comes to the Bible, we must stand on it, and we must stand for it.” Every line in the Bible is truth. It’s a mentality, a lifestyle, and our final authority. When we allow our boundaries to become blurry, we risk crippling someone else’s walk, as well as, our own.
Returning to the passage in Proverbs, we cannot begin to gain knowledge until we understand what fearing the Lord looks like in our lives. Is it cowering at the thought of His coming judgment? No. Is it feeling ashamed of our inadequacy? No. Christians should have a fearful respect for God. This looks like seeking to honor and respect Him; to bask in his awe, as some may say. We must be discerning and realize that He is always monitoring our decisions and thoughts. When we engage in sinful behavior behind closed doors or treat others in a disrespectful way due to the lack of an audience, we are dishonoring God and His vision for our lives. We begin to quash the Holy Spirit and all the plans God has to use us for the glory of the kingdom.
Reversely, this Holden church showed me we can never do enough. When surrounded by other Christians, we see all the positives in their walk and strive to mirror these actions. It’s not that this is a bad mentality; it can even be a mentality born out of pure motivations, but it is never sufficient. Immediately after Amazing Grace was sung, the elderly couple in front of our BSU group removed their jewelry, turned around, and gave it to us. I was in shock. It wasn’t the fact that they had given us jewelry that stumped me; it was the idea that their giving hearts were so selfless that they would pour themselves into us…complete strangers. It’s moments like these that the beauty of Christianity is so clear. However, it’s also moments like this when we find ourselves playing the comparison game. As I began to question my own lack of selflessness, God revealed His truth at the BSU during community groups. Diving into our study, we read the passage in 1 Corinthians 1:26-30 that reads:
“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.”
New Life Fellowship taught me an invaluable lesson. Whether you’re in a pew having an epiphany or amongst friends trying to navigate through life, God will use you. We just have to surrender ourselves and allow Him to do the rest. Wherever we are at spiritually will never be enough. We are broken. We have been given the most perfect gift of life and still turn our backs. Ultimately, we are sinners, but we are saved by the blood of the lamb. In the words of Amazing Grace:
“Our chains are gone.
We have been set free.
My God my savior has ransomed me.
And like a flood, his mercy rains.
Unending love. Amazing Grace.”