Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Beauty of My Relationship with God

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16 (NIV)

            Recently, I had a friend ask me why I’m a Christian. So, I told him how I became one. He said that most people answer with how they became a Christian, rather than answering why. He told me why he’s a Christian, and it was a very good answer that’s hard to exactly replicate. In short, he’s a Christian because of Christ. He believes there’s nothing that makes him good or worthy of heaven except for the fact that Christ died for him. He really made me think about why I have the beliefs and views that I do, and I actually have an answer now (though not sure I can top his, which was better explained by him).

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:36-39

            I didn’t grow up in a religious household, and I’ve never been to church consistently.  I may not know a lot about scripture and God, but I do have very strong beliefs and I’m not blind about my faith. I believe in knowledge, and learning more about God and the context of the Bible should strengthen someone’s faith. I’ve come to understand the core of Christianity, which is love. I’m a Christian because God loves me. I try to be a Christ follower by loving him too. When I was in high school, someone told me that Christianity isn’t a religion, it’s a relationship. That didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me back then, but as I grew, I understood it a lot more.

            In a loving relationship, you do things for each other, not because of obligation, but because you want to make the other person happy. So, Christians try to be good people by obeying God’s laws so that we can make him happy. In a relationship, you spend time learning about each other and listening to each other, which is similar to going to church, reading the Bible, and praying so that we can learn about God and speak with Him, as well as listen. God isn’t meant to be an abstract deity that we worship so that he can bestow his favor on us. We worship Him because we love Him, and because we are grateful for His love. This is an intimate relationship that makes you eternally joyful and over flowing with love. But like every good relationship, it requires a lot of work and doesn’t happen easily, or even naturally for a lot of people

11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Matthew 3:11 (NIV)

            The most beautiful thing about my religion and relationship is this: I am loved regardless of what I do or how I live my life. He will love me at my best, and when I’m completely broken. It’s easy to accept love and to believe you’re loved whenever you’re happy and doing good in life. However, how can you believe anyone loves you when you’re having trouble loving yourself? There have been times in my life when I felt so broken and unworthy of love. I’ve repeatedly made the same mistakes that hurt others and myself. I’ve felt like a terrible person, and at those times, I didn’t think I could go to anyone. I didn’t think anyone could help me. But that’s the beauty of my faith in God, I know that I am always loved by Him. He will always be there for me. He will lift me up and make me clean and new again.

            Repentance and forgiveness are a very large part of Christianity. Repentance is not only confessing your sins, but trying to atone for them – make right what has been made wrong. And forgiveness works two ways – someone must forgive you and you must accept it. To me, it’s beautiful that I can confess my sins to God, repent, and accept his forgiveness, and then everything is okay. My past doesn’t matter, because I am made new in Christ and can be pure again. It’s liberating to know that I have a God who loves me enough to repeatedly forgive me. He will never get tired of my flaws or constant mistakes. I don’t have to be a perfect person, or an ideal Christian. I just have to acknowledge when I’ve done something wrong and be ready to ask for forgiveness.

16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Romans 8:16-17 (NIV)

            A parent’s love is unconditional, and God, as the ultimate father, is even more so. My mom often tells me that no matter what I do, she will always love me and never abandon me. My dad tells me something similar, but adds that he wouldn’t enable me to continue doing bad things. Because he loves me, he doesn’t want to see me go down a bad path. God loves me like my parents, but in a purer form, and far more than they ever could, which is a hard to concept to believe.

            Why does God love us? What have we done to deserve it? That’s like asking why your parents love you. They love you because you were born, because you exist in this world, because they helped in creating you. God created each and everyone one of us. We are his children, so He loves us unconditionally.

"7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. " 1 John 4:7-10

           Non-Christians like to debate with me a lot about my religion and beliefs. They poke holes in the Bible and bring up mistakes the Church has made now and throughout history. They find every wrong thing with Christianity and Christians and use them as reasons for not being a Christian, but are still “spiritual” and “believe that God exists.” I believe that Christians as people are flawed, and so is the Church, but the Bible, God’s word, is not. It’s just read out of context very often and interpreted and misused in many ways. To me, all of these excuses are not a good enough to not follow Christ. There’s too much good that God, the Church and Christians have done that is way overlooked and often entirely ignored. As a Christian, I have never been loved in such a way, and never will be by any living person. So, I choose to be loved, and I choose to love the God that brought me into this world. I choose to be a Christ follower. I choose to be a Christian.

p.s. The first time I knew that God spoke to me, I was in a very low point in my life. I was depressed and felt very unloved. I was lonely and in need of a lot of affection. I prayed to God and cried about how I knew I was loved by my family and friends, but I didn’t feel it. Then he told me, “I have loved you since before your parents knew you existed. I love you now. And I will always love you.”

This is a good chapter to read Romans 5


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