Any quick Internet search will provide many resources on Christianity and the person of Jesus Christ. My intention isn’t to unnecessarily repeat what can already be found through those sources. I just want to share a personal word. I have concluded a few things concerning my personal faith, and I offer you this quick summary about who the person of Jesus is to me.
When one considers Christ and Christianity one must reflect upon historical data and wrestle with legitimate questions.
History. If you choose to research and study, you will find sufficient evidence from a variety of sources that confirm the existence of Jesus Christ. He was born in Bethlehem around 4 B.C. Joseph, a carpenter by trade, and Mary, his wife, raised Jesus in the city of Nazareth. When Jesus was about age 30, He began a public ministry and had many followers all over the Galilean region and beyond. He claimed He was the Messiah, the Anointed One, sent from heaven. He claimed that He was God’s Son and that He would offer His life as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind. This offering (His life) would pay the penalty for mankind’s transgressions (sins) against God. For all who believe (trust and place their faith in) the person of Jesus, accepting His death on the cross for the forgiveness of one’s personal sins, will be forgiven and have new life in Him by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The above is simply a summation of historical data about Christ and what He proclaimed. There is much to say about theology, the purpose and design of church, spiritual growth and spiritual gifts, and a host of other important matters for the Christian to become familiar, which are topics that extend beyond the scope of this writing. Here I simply want to share how a person makes room for God in his or her life, and, if that person is married, explain how God can be the foundation of that marital union.
Questions: There are many questions people have about God, Jesus, and Christianity: How reliable is the Bible? After all, it is an ancient book written in multiple languages by multiple authors. Why does God seem to be one way in the Old Testament (holy wars, sacrifices, the election of the Jewish people, etc.) and another way in the New Testament (forgiveness, grace and love over religious rituals, a right relationship with God offered to all people, etc.)? Why are there so many religions in the world? Is there absolute truth? Why is there evil and suffering in the world? How come some atrocities in history were carried out under the name of God? Was the world created through a big bang, and if so, is that in conflict with God creating the world?
Of course, I could go on. There are a lot of questions to consider. Some questions are answered easily with a greater understanding of theology, but there are some questions to which we may never know the exact answer.
I had to address these two matters in my mind and heart. Firstly, what will I choose to believe about the Jesus recorded in history? Secondly, when difficult questions about God and Christianity are challenging or unanswerable, will that cause me to reject my faith and reject Jesus?
I value sound scientific study. I value healthy dialogue about anthropology and philosophy, discussions of who we are and what we think. These healthy pursuits are not dismissed or marginalized, but my focus is actually much deeper than that. A relationship with God is deeper.
I was raised in a Christian home and was exposed to church teachings at an early age. As a child, I accepted the basic teachings of the church as truth, but, as I later found out, believing something to be true does not necessarily impact or change your life. I may believe in airplanes but never fly. I may believe in democracy but never vote. I may believe in exercise but be as lazy as the day is long. True faith is not simply believing something. It is a confidence in something that changes your life. It is greater than self-discipline and behavior modification. Faith in Jesus is a relationship that by its very existence and nature changes who I am.
One day I happened to be alone, and I meditated on the things I believed about Jesus: His birth, His life, His deity, His miracles, His teachings, His death, His resurrection, His love, and His promises outlined in scripture. There came a realization that those things were peripheral matters if I did not have Him. Having Him was first, foremost, and central. A life with Christ is just that. It is with Christ. The Lord revealed to me that I knew about Him but did not really know Him. As the tears slowly fell from my cheek, I simply told Him that I wanted Him. In that simple prayer, my soul was reaching out to Him. I wanted Him to be my Savior, my Lord, my friend, my guide, and my primary companion. I wanted the relationship that would bring understanding and purpose to my life. With that prayer, I was changed. In the gospel of John, we have this verse:
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name. John 1:12 (NASB)
It was one thing to believe in the existence of Jesus, His works, and all the other historical things I believed to be true. It was something else to receive Him. Now, as you might already know, receiving Jesus does not mean I am perfect. I still struggle at times. Not everything in life is clear, but receiving Jesus means that I do not have to make life’s Journey without Him. I am with Him. Scripture calls this being “born again” or becoming a “new creation” (John 3:3 and 2 Corinthians 5:17). With Jesus in my life, I now have an eternal anchor of hope and direction. In this life, it is my purpose to pursue and follow Him. If you have not already received Jesus, I hope you make room for Him. You are a heartfelt prayer away from the best decision of your life.
Call out to Him in prayer with a sincere heart. Say something like this:
Oh Jesus, I open my heart to you today. Forgive me for the things that I have done wrong – all the past mistakes, hurtful comments I have voiced, selfish behaviors, and impure motives. I am sorry that I acted in ways that displeased You and Your perfect way, but THANK YOU for loving me and saving me by your grace through this prayer of faith. I trust You. I love You, and I desire to follow You. Help me live for You by Your Spirit. Amen.
The truth is, there is nothing supernatural about the prayer itself, but there is something supernatural about the God of the universe who responds to the human soul that seeks Him. A prayer is a way to express that need and desire for Him. He will answer. He will come into your life.
What does a person receive when he or she receives Jesus?
• A relationship with God through His Son, Jesus. His Holy Spirit resides in your spirit to help lead your life and help you be a reflection of the light and love of Jesus.
• Forgiveness from guilt, shame, and punishment that sin brings. Christ paid for our punishment and we are “free” from the guilt of sin.
• Eternal life with God.
These are just a few of the compelling reasons to ask Jesus into your life. You will do well to read the story of Jesus in the Bible. I encourage you to start with the gospel of John. I encourage you to find a Christian church and get to know people there who will pray with you and encourage your faith and study.
How do you invite God into your marriage? If you have invited Jesus into your life, then you have invited Him into your marriage. Maybe you are not following His leading as you should. As a follower of Christ, there should not be anything in your life that He is not governing. I like the word “govern” because it means, in part, the primary influence over the situation. So my motives, as well as what I say, how I respond, and all other interactions with my wife, should be influenced by Jesus, the One who guides me.
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. Titus 2:11-14 (NIV)
These verses tell me that after I have experienced God’s beautiful gift of salvation through grace and become born again, His spirit is present to guide me – to govern me. He is to be the primary influence in my life regarding how I behave, what I say, and what my motives are. The last phrase in the passage says I should be “eager to do what is good”. This applies to all areas of my life, including my marriage. I pursue good things for my wife. I want to speak to her kindly, support her needs, and care for her tenderly. I like to think I would do this because I’m a nice guy, but I know I’m flawed and unable to do that well without Him. So my aim is to please Him. As I please Him, the natural byproduct of that pursuit is that I treat her well, and God is present in our marriage.