Happy Easter! I don’t know about you, but it in no way feels like Easter to me. When I think of Easter, I think of the beauty that is the start of spring, busting out the short sleeves, eating on the patio, and pulling out the pastels for Easter Sunday. Even though it’s hard to reconcile this weird (and very sad) time we’re in right now, I can’t help but think that what might be best for me is that there are little to no distractions for this day: no picture-perfect coordinated outfits to pick out for the family photo, no jam-packed schedule of activities – just me and my family. And my prayer is that as hard as it may be to “get in the zone” with all of the typical Easter aspects missing, that in the end we will focus solely on Jesus.
Earlier this week, The Gospel Coalition posted a challenge to share our testimony using #JesusChangedMyLife. I had every intention of recording my video testimony, complete with this blog post, early this week… but we see how that turned out. Here it is, Saturday night, and I’m barely getting this in before Easter Sunday. The theory of, “If the devil can’t make you sin, he’ll make you busy” has convicted me over and over this week as I’ve crashed on the couch at the end of long weekdays, excusing my punching the Netflix button on my remote with the reasoning that I am exhausted and busy. But y’all, Jesus changed my life. And I can’t let this opportunity, when the world is dark and yet we find ourselves in a weekend that celebrates light, pass by without telling you how He changed my life. He can change yours, too. Here is my testimony in a nutshell:
By the grace of God, I grew up in a Christian home. I attended church with my family, attended Sunday school, attended Christian camps, and the list goes on. As I look back, I can see a number of points throughout my life where God was softening my heart to truly understand the gospel, but for so long, my relationship with God was completely works-based.
While I knew in my head that God forgave me for my sin, there was this missing piece for me of where obedience was really born. As the stereotypical oldest child, Type A, people-pleaser that I was, I wanted to obey because I didn’t really want to disappoint anyone. I didn’t want to get on God’s bad side, even when I had no concept of His wrath. My obedience wasn’t born out of love for Him; it was born out of love for me. Out of a love for the image I wanted to portray to those around me.
When I went off to college, I can see how much God’s hand was on me – my first weekend at school, I attended The Summit Church and they were in a series about the Ten Commandments; the sermon that day was about the Sixth Commandment: do not murder. Check. What’s next? That sermon changed my life, because the pastor began to talk about how God isn’t only seeking obedience in our external actions — it’s about our hearts. So guess what? I had committed murder, plenty of times – I had torn people down, not wished what was best for them, judged them, and the list goes on. I was murdering people in my heart. That was the turning point for me, because despite all of those good-works efforts I had made my whole life, I quickly realized that everything about me is wicked.
You may be reading this and think, “Wow, that’s awfully dramatic,” but it’s actually the honest truth. Our human nature is sinful — we always put ourselves first. Even in our purest moments, there is a tinge of self-service. We can’t stand before a God who is so holy that only perfect beings can be in communion with Him, and that is exactly why we need Jesus. Without Jesus’ sacrifice, His active decision to live a life I could not live so that He could pay the penalty on my behalf, I would not have a relationship with God. It stung when it first hit me, but it was the jumping off point that I needed, and maybe the one you need today, to completely change the trajectory of my life.
While I’ve ebbed and flowed in the strength of my faith, God has never left me. There are so many different directions I could go in with how my relationship with God through Jesus’ sacrifice has changed my life, but I want to do my best to address the question that stands out to me the most when I try to put myself in the shoes of someone who isn’t a believer:
Okay, you’re a Christian. Why do you have to broadcast it? Why do you care if anyone else comes to faith?
With everything people are “selling” these days, I actually do understand this level of skepticism. Everything feels like a pyramid scheme these days, and ironically enough, I feel like our culture is more independent and skeptical than past generations might have been. We want to “live and let live,” and if I’m being completely honest, that would be easier for me to do. But I only came to faith in Christ because a myriad of people were willing to share the news of the gospel with me. Moreover, they were willing to sit with me and challenge me in the years since, helping me to see the grace and calling of God in my life throughout various circumstances. I don’t know what I would do without them, and I would be so selfish if I didn’t put in the same efforts to expand the kingdom of God.
Secondly, and more importantly, you can’t be changed by something so powerful, something that changes your life forever (not just in this earthly life, but for eternity), and not share it with others. My belief that Jesus is Lord is the guiding force in my life. It changes everything I say and everything I do. Jesus commanded Christians to go out and make disciples, so that all people – rich, poor, of every tribe and tongue – would know the grace that is theirs in Him. Not only would it go against my entire life’s purpose if I didn’t share the good news of the gospel with the people I know, but it would go against what Jesus has commanded of me.
Maybe it feels a little crazy. But you know what? Grace that isn’t earned is crazy. Jesus, a perfect being, fully man and fully God, dying a gruesome death in your place? Crazy. God loving you so much that He would sacrifice His own Son to be in relationship with you? Crazy. God’s ways are higher than our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. So I’m okay with it feeling a little crazy, even when it’s hard. And if you’re still tracking with me here, lock in on this. Keep pulling at the thread and open up your Bible, because the beauty of God is that the more you seek, truth is waiting for you. He will not lead you astray, and that is wildly comforting in this lost and fallen world.
Happy Easter, friends. May you experience how deep the Father’s love is for you this weekend and every day thereafter. Jesus changed my life. And I pray He changes yours, too. If you’re looking for some direction on where you go from here, I’ve included a few quick links to trusted websites and a few relevant posts from this blog at the bottom of this post. You’re also welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have specific questions you’d like answered.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.”
-1 Peter 1:3-4