Last year, while I was going through a divorce, my grandmother died. I wasn’t in a good state of mind, so I found myself looking for answers and inspiration. I started studying the Bible, going to churches, and inquiring of others. Here is what I found.
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
If there is one word I would use to describe Christianity, it is LOVE. Jesus tells us about the two most important commandments. First, love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. Second, love others as yourself.
Loving God above everything else really makes me think about all of the things/stuff that I idolize(d). My heart was (and sometimes is) centered on things like cars, the Internet, books, games, movies, family, and friends. I realized that the things I made most important were all ultimately created by God. I started to love the creator more than the creations.
Loving others as you love yourself is tough and I still have a difficult time with this. It starts with loving yourself. There is no one who is more critical or shows more hatred to me than myself. I have caught myself condemning over the slightest mistake. If this is how you treat yourself, how are you treating others? Once I started to accept that I was made by the same creator as the sun, the earth, and rest of the universe, I realized that I was incredible too.
The next part might be even more difficult. No one is perfect and we are all different. People do unthinkably bad things. When you stop judging others for their differences or their mistakes, incredible things happen. I started thinking about how I would like to be treated by them and found myself intensely driven to help people in need. What you receive in return for loving others this is as unique and amazing as each of the people you love.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)
Forgiveness is a large part of Christianity. The Bible has many stories of forgiveness. Jesus was born to save, not to judge or condemn. Once you love others as yourself, forgiveness becomes necessary.
As I mentioned before, people are not perfect and do incredibly bad things. We have been doing wrong since the beginning and will until the end. If God can forgive us for the unspeakably bad, why can’t we forgive ourselves or others? And, if we can’t forgive ourselves or others, how can we expect Him to forgive us? Once I started forgiving people and I quit holding grudges, I found freedom and increased happiness.
Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:27-28)
Another eye opening thing for me over the past year has been truth. I was borderline Atheist before renewing my faith. I had doubted and reasoned. I was cynical and condemning. In other words, I was following the growing number of people who are turning away from God.
I never really studied the Bible until this past year. Once I did, my eyes were opened in a way similar to Lee Strobel. I didn’t just read the Bible. I looked for evidence to disprove or prove it. I was and continue to be amazed by how much proof is available (Apologetics). The Bible itself was written over thousands of years by 40 different authors, yet the way it all ties together is truly remarkable. Historians and archaeologists of multiple religions confirm it. Contrary to popular media, science has yet to disprove any of it. How I was blind from the proof for so long astounds me.
There is a person in the Bible who I started relating too. Even though he heard that Jesus had risen from the dead, Thomas didn’t believe He was alive until he physically saw Him and put his fingers and hand where the deadly holes remained. I saw and heard from people who believe in Him, yet I didn’t truly believe until I uncovered the proof. I believe there are too many people who are the same as I was. They need the proof to accept the truth.
While I have learned many things about Christianity this past year, love, forgiveness, and truth were the most prominent. I am hopeful that someone reading this post will take a similar journey towards Jesus. I also hope they are not made to stumble by popular media or by un-Christ-like people who call themselves Christians. People can start by reading the New Testament. It is the living Word of God. Use it for guidance on any number of subjects.