Abstract: Find out the story of how I became a Christian (follower of Jesus), what that means for me now and how that affects my future.
I grew up in a calm, loving, Christian family as the youngest of 5 kids. I was brought up to believe in a God that loved me enough to die in my place even when I never knew I needed saving. As kids, we would attend Sunday school virtually every week where we’d learn more about God (who he was, his love, what that meant for us, etc).
As I grew slightly older, I became more aware of the fact that none of the things I did made me a Christian, not even my upbringing, family ties or even the fact that I went to church, read my bible and prayed every now and again.
It says in the bible “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9). That means ultimate forgiveness of passed, present and future wrongs.
One sunny afternoon (well, most afternoons are sunny in Zambia!), my bro and I were playing and generally messing around as usual. Our conversation rapidly became more serious as we started talking about God (I was 8 at the time). He asked if I was a Christian. Knowing all I did from Sunday school, I knew that I hadn’t taken a personal step of faith of asking Jesus into my life. I believed he existed and loved me, but had never asked him into my life. So I answered “no.”
Our conversation continued and I remember feeling a huge sense of guilt for not acknowledging God more in my life, especially given how much I knew already. I must have shed a wee tear as I prayed to ask him to forgive my wrong doing and asked him to come into my life. After praying this, there was an overwhelming sense of joy that filled my young heart that to this day I can’t explain other than it being something of God.
The bible makes no promises that being a Christian will make life easier. In fact, it promises quite the opposite. The road ahead will get tougher.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
As I’ve grown older, I have experienced several difficulties and trials but these have only served as evidence of the bible verse above. For example, the past 3 years, I’ve lost a cousin, my grandma and my uncle – very difficult and distressing times. It still breaks my heart whenever I think about it. The difficulty of being so far from home [Zambia], complication and expense of travel made things even tougher. I have no doubt that God placed the individuals he used into my life to help lighten the burden of broken-heartedness and I’m forever grateful (you know yourselves).
My journey is on the narrow road that leads to life and the current pleasures that are promised by the wide road are like a mirage in the desert, they look appealing to ease my current woes but vanish in an instant in the end. My understanding of the bible and love for God has grown tremendously.
People often refer to the bible as the “good news” of Jesus. But what exactly makes it so good? I always remember Dwayne Tryumf – a London based gospel rapper – once indicating that if it is in fact “good news,” then there must be some bad news that precedes it in order to make the ‘good’ news ‘good’, right? Well, that’s what I’d like to talk about briefly as I conclude because I believe it has huge implications on the choice of whether to believe in God or not.
The bible speaks of God creating all things perfect in the beginning including mankind (Genesis 1-2), but by chapter 3 we had turned our backs on him and in effect chosen to be our own gods and the rulers of our own destinies. This meant that the close relationship we once had with God was now cut off. This judgement was passed down to all descendants and generations that followed Adam and Eve (the first man and woman) and the ultimate punishment for this is death and separation from God forever.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23)
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)
But God, because he loved us, showed us mercy and offered himself as a perfect sinless sacrifice to die in our place. He came into the world as a baby, Jesus (the reason we celebrate Christmas), and died the death that took away the Father’s anger towards us and was buried with it. But, as we celebrate at Easter, he rose from the dead three days later having defeated sin and death.
What This All Means? For my future, I live in expectancy and knowledge of a future life spent with God in heaven. But this is not some fluffy grey bearded god-like character that sits up in the clouds somewhere and is distant and always passing judgement, as he’s so often portrayed. He is a very personal and relational God. Christianity is not about being religious but all about a relationship.
My closing challenge to you, if you’re still with me, is to not simply take my word for it but look these claims up for yourself.
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).