I didn’t grow up in a Christian family and religion and God were not things that interested me. When I was younger I also had quite negative preconceptions about church, as I thought it was based on a made up set of beliefs which encouraged intolerance, rituals, restrictions and was really boring too! However, that was before the true gospel was explained to me properly.
I thought that being a ‘religious’ person was all about trying to stick to a set of rules and then look down on those who didn’t succeed in following them, and that people who did believe in God needed religion as some sort of comfort blanket. But then I became friends with people who were passionate about God, and saw how they lived and my ideas about Christianity didn’t match up with what I saw, and this first began to challenge my ideas about religion.
During my teenage years I thought that I was a pretty ‘good’ person; I didn’t get in trouble at school or at home, I worked hard and thought I was quite nice to everyone! But when I was 18, a friend was asked to speak about how she became a Christian.
I had been comforting myself by trying to tick all the boxes and be a ‘good’ person and I put my hope in that, but the truth was that I messed up all the time and I didn’t know how to deal with that. Now I realised that if God was real, then this solution totally worked and made sense and gave an amazing hope and freedom.
He showed me how futile it was for me to keep trying to cope on my own and I realised that there isn’t anything good enough I could do in order to earn God’s love or favour. No one is perfect and there were (and are!) times when I said and did the wrong thing or was selfish and thoughtless, and I suddenly realised how pathetic my attempts were to rely on myself to make things right with God when I messed up. I thought: “At the end of time, what good would it do for me to stand before God with a list of all the things I’ve done in order to try and prove my worth?”
And this was the clear moment where I saw who God really is. He loves us so much that he sent his son Jesus to die for us, so that we don’t have to try and earn his love. In comparison to the perfect and almighty God, nothing we could do to restore our relationship with him would suffice, so Jesus did it all for us – by his life, death and resurrection. And this is the most amazing and liberating truth. I had previously seen religion as a burden that restricts your life and leads to boastfulness and conceit, but I then saw that actually the gospel is the opposite of that. The ONLY thing I need to be right with God is to trustJesus, not a list of my deeds.
This realisation made me want to read the Bible and find out more, because I’ve seen who Jesus really is and I know it in my heart. I saw the evidence and believed that Jesus was the Messiah who was promised thousands of years before.
Since becoming a Christian my life has completely changed because a real understanding of who God is completely frees us to live for him and from that come only good things.