When I was very young, my mum took me to Sunday school – you could say the seeds were sown early. Yes, they told me about Jesus. He was a miracle worker and he saved us from something called sin, just by us merely believing in Him. In my mind eternal life sounded good, so I said I believed in Jesus.
I’m not sure what I expected to change as a 6 year old, but believing in Jesus certainly didn’t have an impact on me in the years to come. By the time I reached high school, I had held on to the Christian tag but clearly the label didn’t match the product. I spoke obscene things, was a troublemaker and did things I probably shouldn’t have, just to be in with the cool kids. I really liked being liked and it meant a lot to me that I was accepted and valued.
But then came the wave of changes. I was invited to a church out in East Lindfield by a family friend. At this time I was 15 and thought to myself that this would be a great time to learn more about Christianity since I already had a foot in it, and then decide whether it was something for me.
Through those years, God kept me close to him, but in my heart I didn’t feel the need for change, life was fine as it was – I had my friends and freedoms. Going to church became more about seeing friends and knowing more about the Bible for my head.
Around the same time my world was shifting; I felt more and more distant from my friends as we started moving around. One pillar of my identity and security was no longer what it was, and it really shook me – how come things had to change? Was it my fault? What was I going to do about it?
It was through the final years of high school where I started thinking about myself a bit more, what was I doing, what do I need to do, I had to focus on the HSC at this point so going to church also slowly ceased, but I moved forward with the promise I made to myself of finding a local church to go to after all this was over to continue my journey.
It’s kind of crazy how these things work. Before I started uni, my cousins invited me to come along to their church. It ran in the afternoon and they could chauffeur me around. Cool – so I didn’t have to go looking for one by myself.
This was the year where I found myself meeting up with Jono Huynh, and attending an Explaining Christianity Group. I had to come to grips with sin not only as a concept and as a reality, along with some theological things like the three-in-one God – and of course, someone to read the Gospel with.
After reading through the book of Mark and a bit of Genesis, I came to understand the Good News as this: we were destined for death – everyone dies, we know that – but it wasn’t just a physical death that was described – but rather, death for your soul, as a rebel against God. It’s not easy hearing that.
However, God in His mercy had a saviour for me – Jesus, God’s only son – God who came down as man. To be born, to live & suffer as a man then to die. So what? He dies and all will be alright in God’s eyes? Yes, but there’s more. Jesus’ resurrection speaks of something else – that is, death does not have the last say, because there is life after death. Sin which brought death has been defeated. Because of Jesus’ resurrection, we have been presented with the gift of eternal life with God the Father in heaven.
It took me some time to understand that there is no such thing as a perfect Christian. For me, even after reading through the Gospels, I had a checklist of baggage that I felt I needed to drop off before I would be comfortable in calling myself a Christian. I felt like I had to prove to myself that I was “eligible” to become a follower of Jesus. Somehow, I became my own gatekeeper to Jesus.
I really had to wrestle with this and by God’s kindness he showed me that I alone could not save myself – because if I could, I would have done it already, and I wouldn’t be a sinner and the Good News wouldn’t be for me. I knew I had to give up my pride and strength to God but I didn’t know what would happen or what I’d be getting myself into. Later that year, I decided to put away my checklist and take that leap of faith to trust that Jesus would justify me before God and sanctify me.
After receiving Jesus as my Saviour, I was compelled to make him my Lord as well, ruler over my life. Through the years after, I’ve been learning what it means to love one another, appreciate His creation and the gifts he has given me. I’ve also learnt to glorify God in everything I do and the intricacies of living as a Christian in this world that’s so broken. God has challenged me and, with the work of the Holy Spirit, led me to do things I wouldn’t have thought of doing, like being a leader of one of our Extreme youth groups, or leading a small group of Christians and seekers at Credo, the UTS student ministry.
We like to think of living the Christian life as running a race. I know I’ll have my ups and downs, sometimes the heat will be on, or I’ll be out in the cold – but God’s promises of a fixed and perfect world at the end of time, when Jesus returns, keeps me hopeful and joyful as he sustains me on this marathon of a race on earth.
Where do you stand in your relationship with Jesus Christ? Have you heard of him? Do you know a bit about him? Are you put off by His very name?
Maybe it’s crossed your mind that, you cannot save yourself, or you’re too far-gone and no one could save you, or would want to save you, or in my case, that you’re not good enough to be saved because you could never meet the standards, whatever they are – I’m sorry to tell you but Jesus has done all that he has, for you, just as you are; and he invites you to be a part of his family of redeemed rebels.
I’d like to leave you with Romans 5:6-8, a passage that spoke to my feelings of unworthiness.
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”