Many people today grow up knowing nothing (really) about Jesus. Yes, they may have a general sense of who he was or have heard some of the Bible stories, but they really don't know any detail other than perhaps the crucifixion/resurrection stories. They have no idea about His purpose, His relevance or what He has to do with God (or them, personally). I think at the core, most people do believe there is a God - or a "higher power" - but they have no idea what to really believe about who or what God is. In fact, most people, I have observed, believe that there is no way to really know the absolute truth about God... so they just kinda go along with life.
Part of my 'mission', if you want to call it that, is to simply say to those who feel lost - if you want to be restored to a right relationship with God, you can be. In fact, God wants a relationship with you! He is waiting for you to come to Him. You are His precious child, and He wants nothing more than to express His love and grace to you and to restore joy to your life!
Maybe you don't know what to believe about God. You'd like to believe, but there are so many religious ideas out there - how can you possibly know which is right? I can understand the confusion, but I encourage you to seek after God, and to seek after truth!
But, what is truth? That's the same question Pilate posed to Jesus before he had Jesus crucified. He was skeptical, too. You know what Jesus said about truth?
...for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.John 18:37
Jesus came into the world to testify to what truth is. Jesus also said:
I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.John 5:24
You may ask, how can a man be so arrogant to say that 'everyone on the side of truth listens to me.' or that 'whoever hears my word and believes has eternal life'? It is because Jesus is more than just a man - he is the very expression of God on earth. To put it somewhat simply, God became a man so that He could communicate with us in terms we humans could understand. When Jesus spoke, He spoke the very words of God, the creator of all things.
Listen to what Jesus said in regards to this:
It is written in the Prophets: 'They will all be taught by God.' Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.John 6:45
If you knew me, you would know my Father (God) also.John 8:19
For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father (God) who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.John 12:49-50
So, the essense of Christianity is the understanding that Jesus is God's representative on earth for expressing both pure truth and pure love. In listening to and studying what Jesus said and did, we are seeing the very expression of God Himself. That's how we know the truth. Because we listen to, and study the words of Jesus.
I know this is a lot to take in. I suppose the logical question to this might be, 'Why would God go to so much trouble to become a man?' Simply because He loves us! What father, who is truly a good and loving father, would watch their precious child die and do nothing? He wouldn't! It is the same with God. Jesus came to express to us God's love and concern for us. He came so that, as our loving Father in heaven, He could communicate with us on our level and show us the way out of this pit and into eternal life!
So the next question might be, 'OK, if God loves us so much, and He is such a loving Father, why is there so much suffering and death in the world?'
Well, in a way, the reason there is suffering in the world is because God is so loving. Huh?
Look, God created a perfect world where there was no suffering or death. God also created man, Adam, whom He had a personal relationship with. God planted a beautiful garden called in Eden and let man live there and take care of it. Imagine a garden that God planted! How incredibly beautiful and perfect that would be! The Bible tells us that God used to walk in the garden with Adam. God and Adam and Eve talked together just like you and I talk together over coffee!
But, here's the deal. God loved us so much, he gave us the right to choose whether or not to stay in a relationship with him. And eventually, man chose to go his own way, chose not to believe in God's word. This is the event that took this perfect world God created, and spoiled it. Man chose to follow his own desires, and go his own way.
So, to sum up, this world of suffering we live in is not the world God created. It is the result of man taking what God created and doing his own thing with it. Mankind took what God made and said to him, it's mine. Kind of like a two-year-old if you think about it. Give a two-year-old a perfect, beautiful painting and what will they do with it? They'll take their crayons and make their own alterations to it. They aren't mature enough to appreciate the perfect beauty that's before them. That's more or less what we, in seeking after our own lusts, did.
The story of the Bible, you see, is in reality a story of the process that God is going through to restore everything back to perfection. Jesus is the restorer. That is his role, and we see this throughout his ministry. He healed people's hearts, he forgave their sins, he restored sight to the blind and made the lame to walk again. This is what Jesus was all about. He was the restorer, and he is the focal point of all God is doing in terms of restoring you back to a right relationship with Him.
Listen again to what Jesus says:
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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.John 3:16-17
Jesus came to restore. To restore who? To restore you and me to a right relationship with God.
So, you might ask, what do I have to do? What does God want from me? God made it simple. He, through Jesus, essentially said to us: I love you - I have provided for you - just believe.
Just believe. Seek after truth. Study the words of Jesus, and believe what He says.
I'm not good enough, you say. You know, you're right. You're not good enough. But God has done the work. It is Jesus that does the restoring, not you. When you go to a doctor for healing, you don't say to him, 'I'm a bad person, so you can't fix me.' Whether you are good or bad make no difference. The doctor is willing to fix you up. The doctor is able to help you. He does the work of healing, not you. It's exactly the same with God. He does the work, through Jesus. Just sit back, believe, and let Him begin to do the work.
One of my favorite passages in the Bible is from Luke, chapter 18. It's a parable told by Jesus. It goes like this:
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 'Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.Luke 18:9-14
What's the point? The point is that God isn't looking for people who are self-righteous, He's looking for people who know they need help. So if you feel unworthy of God's love? You are just the kind of person God wants to restore. Pray to Him... express to Him how you need Him. Ask Him to forgive your sins... ask Him to save you, to restore you to Him. Believe the Lord Jesus Christ and through Him, you will be. How great and merciful our God is!
OK, so I've thrown a lot out there. I guess it comes down to this final plea. If you know me, you know my life, my joy, my faith, my love for my family, and you know my Christian walk. You know my faith isn't 'made up', or 'fake.'' I live it to the best of my ability. By observing my life, you can see how God has provided for me and blessed my family. You can see how, in spite of difficulties in life, I have trusted God and He has brought me through. Knowing this, If you don't know for sure what to believe, just look at me. Look at my joy. Look at how much I love the Lord. I believe in Jesus. I know His word is truth. So, if you still don't know what to believe, I ask you to simply Trust me.
If there is one thing I know for sure in life, one thing I know I can count on, it's that God does love you with a passion you cannot imagine. Trust me on this. Follow after God with all your heart and strength, and He will, by His Spirit, guide you to His truth and into His love.
Questions? Email David at firstname.lastname@example.org.