Don't cramp my style
The Associate Director
Keren, a corporate communications associate director, wondered how she could ‘...look at the facts without being pounced upon by a load of over-enthusiastic churchy people looking for victims to hug?’
I grew up in a Christian home and for many years I would have said I was a Christian.
Everything changed when I moved away to university. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in God any more. I was just drawn to other things that seemed more exciting and took over my time and energy. I was soon having a fabulous time; whether it was an emotional high (fuelled by ‘love’, new friendships, cheap red wine, nights out) or a gut-wrenching low (the end of love, my own failings, cheap red wine, nights out), I was experiencing life and I loved it …
… most of the time.
Surely there was more to life than having as much fun as possible, and getting through the tough times, for 80-odd years. ‘Making the most of life’ didn’t seem particularly satisfactory when the world was bursting with so many broken relationships, unfulfilled dreams, untimely deaths; or when the daily grind of work felt so pointless.
Five years ago, something was nagging away at me to re-examine Christianity. But how could I look at the facts without being pounced upon by a load of over-enthusiastic churchy people looking for victims to hug?
I searched online and found a church in the City that had stuff going on during the week. This seemed much less scary than rocking up on a Sunday.
I signed up for a series of informal discussions called Christianity Explored. I figured I could easily escape if needed, melt into the City crowd and never see these people again. The format of the gatherings was cringe-proof. Groups were small but without putting people under the spotlight. There was no requirement to read the Bible out loud (the idea filled me with dread). There was no singing (phew). There was discussion but no pressure to talk. No question was too daft or too awkward (though we tried our best to pose some tough ones). There was some pretty heated debate.
A few weeks in, I realised that it actually made sense. And if what Jesus claimed was true, it had to be life-changing.
Believing that Jesus is who he says he is – God, who also lived, died and rose from the dead so that I could live – is utterly transformational and more liberating than I ever imagined.
I’m far from perfect. Most importantly, I often live as if God doesn’t exist. I’m often eager to look for people’s approval rather than God’s. So the fact that God allows me to know him, and the forgiveness he offers through Jesus’ death on the cross, is mind-blowing.
Knowing and trusting Jesus affects my view on what’s really important. The Bible says that this world isn’t all there is and that Jesus is alive. So whilst I want to do my best and work hard, and whilst I’m thankful for my enjoyable life and for many fantastic relationships, these things are not the be-all and end-all. They are finite. They can disappear overnight; they break down, get sick, get old, disappoint.
My identity and my eternal future are absolutely certain and secure. And, importantly, this doesn’t rely on me, my rather fickle and unreliable feelings, my relationships, my career path, my marital status, my ability or desire to have children or anyone or anything apart from Jesus.
I’m still partial to (slightly less cheap) red wine and (slightly shorter) nights out; but with rather a different perspective these days, I’m a lot more realistic about what they offer.
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