Nathan Koch is a P4 pharmacy student. This is his testimony that he shared at our last campus service.
I grew up going to church every Sunday and Youth Group every Wednesday night. From an early age, my parents instilled within me that church and God came before anything else – the only excusable reason to miss church was if you were hospitalized. And I am very thankful to them for raising me that way. Because of this, “Christian” became one of the most important titles I wore. And, when I was about 10 years old, I got baptized because I knew that this was what all Christians did. (And people celebrated you – which I really wanted.) However, by the end of middle school I had realized that my baptism was not genuine. I knew I didn’t understand what baptism was really about, or what it really meant to be a Christian. See, I always had this gut-feeling understanding that Christianity was way more than just going to church. I would hear verses like Luke 14:26, 27 – “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be my disciple.” And I knew deep down in my heart that I had to give control to God over my life. And I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to live how I saw fit. And, I DEFINITELY did not want to admit to my parents or my church that I, Nathan Koch, the golden boy Christian, didn’t think I was truly a Christian. So, I resolved in myself to keep it to myself and figure out how to be a Christian once I graduated and moved away.
So, I went through High School, and on the outside things looked awesome: I was a 4.0 student, school was easy for me, I was a really friendly, funny person, I was the “nice guy” – the standard for all the other guys, I was really involved and excelled in theater and fine arts, I was student body president, etc. etc. But I had a secret. You want to know what that secret was? My secret, a secret so deep I didn’t even truly know I had it, was that I was actually worse than anyone else in my high school. I was so much eviler than anyone else. I hated people. I judged everyone; I looked down on and thought I was so much better than all the other kids who drank, did drugs, had sex, weren’t as smart or hardworking as I. I hated anyone who did anything better than I – got a better part, got the solo, did better in a class or on a test. Bitterness, hate, and envy consumed my soul.
Then, in the fall of my first year at Drake, I came to Campus Fellowship, joined a Bible study, went to campus service – because “Christian” was still the title I wore, and I had resolved in myself in eighth grade to find a good church and figure out this whole Christian thing once I got out of my hometown. And you know what I learned right away? I really didn’t like Campus Fellowship. The guys in my Bible study were really weird – and I wanted to be in one of those Christian groups where everyone is really cool, and everyone is beautiful, and it’s really cool to be a Christian. And this was not it. (Thankfully, things have changed.) Also, everyone was like a way better Christian than me. And I hated that. People knew the Bible better than me, they were nicer than me, they were more passionate than me when they sang during worship. And I would be constantly judging everyone. But for some unknown reason (*wink, wink* God) I kept coming around. But it wasn’t until Fall Conference my first year that I realized my problem: See, we were in the Fellowship Hall worshipping, and I was doing what I always did – judging people for being holier than me – and it donned on me what made them different. These people actually love God, and I didn’t. I believed God existed, but I didn’t care. And this realization wrecked me to the core. If I had spent 18 years in the church and currently possessed zero ounces of love for God, how could I expect to change? So, I began praying, begging to God He would change my heart, give me the ability to love Him and love other people (because I knew I couldn’t produce love from within me). And let me tell you – it was not an instantaneous change; it was a slow-burning, painful process that involved constant prayer, faithful men and women loving and pouring into me, and the Word of God.
But, when I got to the end of my first year at Drake, I started to look back and finally noticed that I actually loved God, and I kind of genuinely cared about people. Weird. And you know why things changed? (Other than the Spirit of God working within me.) It’s because for the first time in my life, I understood the gospel. See I had known since before I can remember that ‘Jesus died for our sins’. But I finally realized He didn’t just die for our collective sins – He died for my sins. That I actually deserved death, that I wasn’t good at all. That my evil, wicked heart made me despicable to God. And God loved me enough that He allowed Jesus to suffer on my behalf – being the only human (both God and Man) to possess a pure, good heart. And for the first time, I had a reason to love God.