I struggled with the Christian message
As a teenager my perception of God was very much shaped by those around me. I didn’t think I needed to go to church to be a Christian.
I thought it didn’t really matter which God you believed in as long as you did believe and tried to be a good person. I struggled with the Christian message – the claim that Jesus is the only way to God. It sounded arrogant and too exclusive.
How could one group of people be the only ones who knew the truth? I distorted the little that I actually understood about Christianity to suit my own views and circumstances. I wanted a God who would accept everyone who was relatively decent – setting the bar just below my own standards of what was right or wrong.
It wasn’t until university that I really started to think more about ‘the big questions of life’ – like ‘Where did the universe come from? Where did we? And is there life after death?’ I started attending a church in Manchester from time to time.
The speakers were gripping and I would listen carefully to what was being said. But as an adult I began to question the reliability of what I was hearing. At that point it became clear to me that I needed to know whether the Bible, and ultimately the Christian message, was true or not.
I started to explore the Christian faith by reading the Bible and Christian books, and speaking to my sister who had known Jesus as her Lord and Saviour for several years. The more I looked into it – and especially the more I read the Bible or heard it preached – the more I became convinced of its truth. I was also amazed at the remarkable relevance that it had to my life.
A problem of the heart
It’s been said that the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart. The Bible explains that the human problem – and that of this world and the corruption we see around us – all stems from human sinfulness. It is this that separates us from God, the author and sustainer of all things, who is perfect in every way.
We can try to work our way up to God by being religious or trying to be good, but our best attempts fail because our hearts are sinful. But in his love and mercy God sent his Son into the world. Unlike anyone else before or since, Jesus lived a sinless life and was therefore perfectly right with God.
He died on a cross as a punishment for my sin and the sin of all who put their trust in him. Because he suffered God’s judgement in my place, I can be confident that I won’t have to. Instead, I know him whom to know is eternal life.
A wonderful thing
When I became a Christian about three years ago I thought I would have to give up a lot, but intellectually it seemed the only thing to do. I didn’t fully realise at the time what it would mean to have a living relationship with God through the Lord Jesus.
It may sound strange or trite, but I assure you it is not. As a Christian I have a sure and certain hope of eternal life – an inheritance which can never spoil, fade or be taken from me. That’s a wonderful thing in a world where there is no lasting hope, where everything perishes, and death is the only certainty.
I have found that living as a Christian and trying to submit to Jesus as Lord can be difficult but it really is the most wonderful thing. The more I learn about Christ from his word the Bible, the more my faith is strengthened. And the more grateful I am to God for opening my eyes to know who Jesus really is – and to see the value of things that are good in his eyes rather than those that the world counts precious.