A modern artist, attending an exhibition of his own abstract paintings, was disappointed to find that one of his most admired paintings was hanging upside down. My life in the 60s was like that – a piece of upside-down abstract art. It had a lot of movement, energy and colour but no real meaning – and it brought no real satisfaction.
One day in 1966 a group of us art students were discussing religion. As a result, I decided to accompany a Roman Catholic student to her place of worship. I had not been to church since I left Sunday school at the age of eleven.
I was surprised to see a number of young people there that I often saw at dances, discos and parties. During the service they were chatting and it seemed to me that they were just going through the motions of the service.
The following Sunday I decided to pay a visit to the Anglican church where I had attended Sunday school. The Bible reading was from Luke 16 – the rich man and Lazarus. I was confronted with the stark alternatives of heaven or hell.
During the following week I could find no rest. So I turned to the Gideon New Testament I had been given in school and looked for the passage about the rich man and Lazarus. My Bible knowledge was so poor that I could not find it.
However, what I read in other passages that week deeply concerned and convicted me. It was as if God was speaking directly to me through theScriptures. One passage that troubled me greatly was this:
‘Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived; neither fornicators. nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God’ (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
For a week I tried to reform my life, but this brought me no peace of mind. In desperation I contacted two people for help. One was the vicar of the Anglican church, and the other was Alan Jones, a youth leader at a local Baptist chapel (I had briefly attended their Youth Fellowship about four years previously).
Sadly, the vicar did not understand the nature of my concern. He told me that his sermon on the rich man and Lazarus was motivated by his worry over the small collections at his church recently!
Alan Jones, however, seemed to understand exactly how I felt, and how God was dealing with me. My burden of personal sin was not lifted until the minister, Rev. Graham Harrison, showed me in an evening sermon that Jesus Christ had paid the price for my sin when he died on the cross.
Shortly after I came to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for my salvation, my girlfriend at the time took me to see the latest Michael Caine film. I remember sitting there in the dark listening to the words of the theme song: ‘What’s it all about, Alfie?’
I thought to myself, ‘Yes, for the first time in my life I know what life is all about’. Have you discovered the true meaning and purpose of life?