I accepted Christ into my life when I was in high school and became a member of the United Methodist Church in Visalia, CA. I had been to other churches, and found them lacking, but I felt as if I had found a home and loving church family at this one. I was so joyful that I ran around my high school, telling everyone I knew that I had accepted Christ. I received a lot of strange looks and comments like oh ….. okay, and I alienated a lot of people. Since I was a very shy kid, I didn’t have enough friends that I could lose any, but this still didn’t put a damper on my joy. I just felt sorry for those other kids.
When I went away to college, I moved to Fresno and was unable to find a church family there, although I have to admit that I didn’t try very hard. Everything was new and exciting, and there was so much to learn. I spent a lot of time in choir and opera rehearsals. I gradually drifted from my faith, not completely away, but I set my faith at a distance. I never stopped talking to God, but my conversations were much less frequent, and I was less sure that He had the time to listen to my silly problems.
Over the years, there have been many times in my life when I could feel Jesus watching me, and with me. He has always been there for me, even when I was absent for Him. I believed that, by following God’s command to “treat your neighbor as yourself”, I was still being a Christian.
When Geoff and I had a personal crisis a couple of years ago, we experienced a very dramatic rescue that could only have come from God. Geoff and I talked about this afterward, and both of us were convinced that we had received a miracle from God, and that we needed more God and Jesus in our lives.
I now believe that following Jesus requires a much more significant commitment. It means not only worshiping Him, but being more like Him ourselves. Mark 1:11 says, “And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
If I want to please God, I must be more like Jesus. This includes being generous to those who have less than I do. It includes loving people who are different from me. It includes loving those who don’t treat us well – not an easy thing to do, but who among us has been treated as badly as Jesus was by the people he loved and gave His life to save? Jesus still loved us enough to withstand torture for us, and to come back from the grave. This is the kind of love I want in my life, and that I want to show to others.