I recently received my very first question from the “Ask Raleigh” page. Super exciting stuff, I know. I am no John Piper, but I can answer a question with the best of them. And luckily for me I even know the answer to this one.
Question: When did you become a Christian?
I grew up in a household with a Christian mother who dutifully took my sister and I to church with her every week and prayed for my father’s conversion. So, I never questioned the existence of God. I knew that Jesus was his son. That Jesus really lived as a real person for actual fact. That he really died on the cross for my sins and rose again on the third day. It was all true. The benefit of growing up in the church is knowledge of the truth, but not necessarily faith.
My problem was that I knew I was a bad person. I did bad things, and I really enjoyed them. But somehow, and for some reason, I was going to go to heaven simply for knowing about Jesus (see: I didn’t get it). To me, I had in my mind this idea that I would do all these bad things on Earth, then I would die. I would walk up to God on the last day and hand him my report card full of Fs and he would stamp it forgiven and I would go to heaven.
And this made NO SENSE to me. None at all. It wasn’t fair. That’s not how it should be. I wanted to go to heaven, but I knew I didn’t deserve it and I was far to bad. This led to a life of wall-building. I knew how bad I was and I hated myself for it. It was ugly and disgusting. If anyone else were to see how truly sinful and bad I was they wouldn’t want to be my friend, much less love me. So, I hid it. I hid who I was on the inside and played the put-together, well-adjusted “Christian” like I was supposed to. All the while continuing in my sinful life-style and choices.
In August of 2013 I attended a conference with the Student Fellowship group here in Dubai. We were studying the first half of the Book of Mark. While at the conference I met the girl who God would use to change my life. Sarah was a new intern with the leadership who oversaw the Fellowships in Dubai. She was (and is) super friendly and down-to earth. She just wants to be your friend.
I remember her saying something to me about seeing me for me, and that I wasn’t really who I acted like. She promised to love me no matter who I turned out to be. And offered to help me find out.
God had positioned these moments to work together for my salvation: studying the book of Mark, meeting Sarah, and starting to really delve into God’s word. I met with Sarah to study the Bible with her. I don’t remember what we studied or what passage exactly it was that hit me. But one day while we were reading I just started crying because it suddenly became so evident of what we had done. We (I) killed GOD. I killed him! And he allowed himself to die so that I might live. When God looks at a believer he doesn’t see them and their sin-tainted life. He see’s Christ, and Christ’s perfection.
I was wrong growing up. When I die, I’m not taking my report card full of Fs to God and for some reason he lets me through. Salvation and Faith allows me to take Jesus’s report card to God… and it’s straight As. The guilt was gone. The walls were down. The motivation to live in light of this truth was firmly rooted. I was given eyes to see and finally had faith in the thing that I had “known” since childhood.
Sometime in Fall of 2013 Jesus changed my life.