THE QUESTION that CHANGED MY LIFE
-by David Ryser.
A number of years ago, I had the privilege of teaching at a school
of ministry. My students were hungry for God, and I was constantly
searching for ways to challenge them to fall more in love with
Jesus and to become voices for revival in the Church. I came across
a quote attributed most often to Rev. Sam Pascoe. It is a short
version of the history of Christianity, and it goes like this:
Christianity started in Palestine as a fellowship; it moved to Greece
and became a philosophy; it moved to Italy and became an institution;
it moved to Europe and became a culture; it came to America and
became an enterprise. Some of the students were only 18 or 19
years old--barely out of diapers--and I wanted them to understand
and appreciate the import of the last line, so I clarified it by adding,
"An enterprise. That's a business." After a few moments Martha,
the youngest student in the class, raised her hand. I could not
imagine what her question might be. I thought the little vignette was
self-explanatory, and that I had performed it brilliantly. Nevertheless,
I acknowledged Martha's raised hand, "Yes, Martha." She asked
such a simple question, "A business? But isn't it supposed to be
a body?" I could not envision where this line of questioning was going,
and the only response I could think of was, "Yes." She continued,
"But when a body becomes a business, isn't that a prostitute?"
The room went dead silent. For several seconds no one moved or
spoke. We were stunned, afraid to make a sound because the
presence of God had flooded into the room, and we knew we were
on holy ground. All I could think in those sacred moments was,
"Wow, I wish I'd thought of that." I didn't dare express that thought
aloud. God had taken over the class.
Martha's question changed my life. For six months, I thought about
her question at least once every day. "When a body becomes a
business, isn't that a prostitute?" There is only one answer to her
question. The answer is "Yes." The American Church, tragically,
is heavily populated by people who do not love God. How can we
love Him? We don't even know Him; and I mean really know Him.
... I stand by my statement that most American Christians do not
know God--much less love Him. The root of this condition originates
in how we came to God. Most of us came to Him because of what
we were told He would do for us. We were promised that He would
bless us in life and take us to heaven after death. We married Him
for His money, and we don't care if He lives or dies as long as we
can get His stuff. We have made the Kingdom of God into a business,
merchandising His anointing. This should not be. We are commanded
to love God, and are called to be the Bride of Christ--that's pretty
intimate stuff. We are supposed to be His lovers. How can we love
someone we don't even know? And even if we do know someone,
is that a guarantee that we truly love them? Are we lovers or
I was pondering Martha's question again one day, and considered
the question, "What's the difference between a lover and a prostitute?"
I realized that both do many of the same things, but a lover does
what she does because she loves. A prostitute pretends to love, but
only as long as you pay. Then I asked the question, "What would
happen if God stopped paying me?"
For the next several months, I allowed God to search me to uncover
my motives for loving and serving Him. Was I really a true lover of
God? What would happen if He stopped blessing me? What if He
never did another thing for me? Would I still love Him? Please
understand, I believe in the promises and blessings of God. The
issue here is not whether God blesses His children; the issue is
the condition of my heart. Why do I serve Him? Are His blessings
in my life the gifts of a loving Father, or are they a wage that I have
earned or a bribe/payment to love Him? Do I love God without any
conditions? It took several months to work through these questions.
Even now I wonder if my desire to love God is always matched by
my attitude and behavior. I still catch myself being disappointed
with God and angry that He has not met some perceived need in
my life. I suspect this is something which is never fully resolved,
but I want more than anything else to be a true lover of God.
So what is it going to be? Which are we, lover or prostitute?
There are no prostitutes in heaven, or in the Kingdom of God for
that matter, but there are plenty of former prostitutes in both
places. Take it from a recovering prostitute when I say there is no
substitute or unconditional, intimate relationship with God. And I
mean there is no palatable substitute available to us (take another
look at Matthew 7:21-23 sometime). We must choose.
-Dr. David Ryser.