Before I became a Christian, anybody who knew me would say I was completely against the idea of organized religion. I truly believed that anybody who put their faith into something that couldn’t be seen had to be brainwashed and I was convinced I would never be a part of that. A little over a year ago, I met some ladies from Missio Dei Fellowship through a wedding and was asked to become part of a book club. Little did I know the first book we would tackle was “Twelve Extraordinary Women“. When I read the book’s description online, I instantly regretted agreeing to be a part of this group due to the fact we would be focusing on bible related content. I wanted to know these amazing ladies I had met but at the same time wanted nothing to do with religion. Looking back at that I see how truly blessed I was for God to have the spirit work in me through these weekly meetings. Even while I was fighting the idea of a God being the main devotion of these women’s lives, they continued to throw the word at me. They lovingly pushed forward and soon I found myself driving home after these meetings and wondering about whether or not God may actually be real. I brushed these desires to know more about God away and convinced myself I was crazy for even thinking God may exist. When I finally had my “ah-ha” moment as many people call it, I was driving home and being lost in thought began speaking out loud (Granted I probably looked crazy to the drivers around me). My ranting slowly turned into a rudimentary form of prayer and I realized I believed in God, although I had no idea what it meant to be a believer. The following week, with all the nervousness I couldn’t possibly get rid of, I asked my friend if I could come to church with her. Her and her husband provided me my first bible (probably something they slightly regretted later as I required them to turn the pages for me the first couple months).
As everything was starting to fall into place and my confidence in the existence of God grew, I faced my first challenge. I had been dating a man for almost four years who held the same beliefs about organized religion I had prior to coming to faith, a man I was planning on getting married to this last year. I was lovingly guided by these ladies about what it means to live a God-honoring life and my boyfriend at that time did not fit that picture. I struggled through months of confusion and pain, wondering why God would reveal himself to me when it would require me to give up the one thing that meant the most to me. I woke up daily and tearfully argued with the idea of returning to a sinful life where I would turn my back on God and go back to what I thought was happiness. It seemed easier than following a God who wasn’t what pop culture made him out to be, and I would be lying if I said I no longer fight the influences of my old life on a daily basis.
One of the many wonderful things about God though is the fact he is a loving God who can provide comfort by simply trusting in him. 1 Corinthians 2:14 states that “a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” I have found comfort in the fact that I do not know everything there is to possibly know about God. I was once in the dark about God and who he is and I realize now how alone I was without him. While I still struggle with wanting to go back to my old life I am very blessed to know that God is in control of everything and by putting my faith in him I can take comfort in the fact that he will always provide. It may not fit exactly what I had wanted for myself, but it will fit what God desires and that is a wonderful thing. For the struggles I still face, Galatians 5:16 provides guidance; “But I say, walk by the spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” To this I can say it is not an easy task, but it is one worth taking up. God gave his only son for us and provided the spirit so we may enter the Kingdom of Heaven, something we are not able to do on our own as wicked sinners. This act of love shows just how merciful God is to us, so why would we not want to walk by the spirit who would guide us to him? Being a Christian is not easy. It is a battle that we all fight every day to be in, but it is worth it to be in the light of a God who is jealous for our love, is all powerful, and has sacrificed so much for us to return to him.
So today I stand before all of you to testify that I believe our merciful God gave his only son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins. I believe that while he was here on Earth, he was a faithful servant to the Father given that Mark 10:45 says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many”. I believe that Jesus suffered on the cross and bared the weight of our sins and that this act was accepted by God as a worthy sacrifice. The acceptance of his sacrifice was shown in Jesus rising again, as Jesus was completely without sin which made him the only worthy sacrifice for God. I believe that by him dying for his church we are now able to come before God and be worthy enough to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, something we would not be able to do on our own merits or wealth. In front of all of you I testify that I believe Jesus lived, died, was buried, and rose again in the ultimate act of love and mercy so that we may be able to come before the heavenly Father. I testify that I truly believe God gave his only son to die for our sins so that we may appear perfect and be able to one day enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.