My Life Before I Followed Christ
I have been very blessed even before I ever knew about Christ. I was born into a rather traditional Chinese family and have self-sacrificing parents whose only true desire was to make sure me and my sister grew up ok and are happy. As such, I did not lack anything growing up and had a head start in life through my education and confidence in life. I have been exposed to Christianity/Catholism from a young age, but saw it more as a "repent or go to hell" thing so there was abosultely no buy-in from me. :)
Many years later, I had what I thought was the perfect life for a Singaporean - great job, fast car and a air stewardess girlfriend (don't ask me why, but those 3 seemed to be the stuff of dreams back then). But you know what, for some strange reason, I was NOT happy. I was even depressed sometimes, especially when I cannot fill my time with working and being merry - e.g. there were nights when my friends had other engagements and I would be alone at home, and the feelings of depression and nameless anger would start. Needless to say, I was NOT the most pleasant guy to be with, even for my parents, as I was angry with them for not providing me with EVEN BETTER things in life!
Over time, I broke up with the air stewardess girlfriend, and I met someone else - you guessed it, my wonderful wife! :) She was certainly not destitude, but being from a large family, she also did not have a lot of the things that I had. BUT, she had JOY in her life. I could tell that she was genuinely happy and I could not figure it out. We started dating, and I remember one day, she lost a very expensive necklace of her mom's. She was freaking out and praying, and I decided to help pray too. So I literally said one of those "God, if you are really there.." prayers, and lo and behold, she found the necklace shortly. Still, I was not totally convinced - that could have been just a freak incident. I started attending some church services with her (as all good aspiring boy friends do) and while we were visiting churches, we came to Christ Methodist Church. For some reason, the sermons there really spoke to me in the 1st few weeks that we attended them. I can't really recall what the content of the sermons are, just that they really spoke to my heart. I guess that was the turning point for me, when I realised that Christianity was not about "obeying rules or go to hell", but about having a RELATIONSHIP with a loving God. So I commited to attend the services at Christ Methodist Church and even joined a Care Group (basically a small group that meets regularly to pray, study the bible, chit-chat, and have fun). Looking back, the Care Group had significant impact in my decision to stay in church. Having a group of (eventually) close friends with the same faith with whom I can talk about ANYTHING (my fears, desires, mistakes, encouragements), knowing that I will not be judged, but instead have emotional and prayer support is a tremendous thing. (If you are not in a Care Group, you REALLY ought to try it. It will feel kinda weird the 1st few meetings, but once the ice is broken, you will have loads of fun and be blessed tremendously.)
It is actually kinda hard to place a moment in time when it happened, but I gradually understood a few important facts:
- Christianity is about having a RELATIONSHIP with a loving God, not about obeying rules, giving money, trying to be good, etc...
- God is good, and so cannot tolerate sin. The very definition of sin is that which displeases (or does not honour) God. So rather than a God who sets rules and punishes us when we break them, I now understand that our God is a very strong and very pure God - that He is not a wishy-washy, whatever-happens kinda God, but a God who has a strong personality/character and one who is true to His principles.
- When God created us, He chose (out of His love) to give us free will - otherwise we would be like robots. When God made that decision, He knew that He is relinquishing control over us, and literally giving us the option to turn away from Him (i.e. to sin). This concept may be hard to grasp, but I know that as a parent, I would rather give my children the will to decide to how to live their lives, rather than to have children who are not able to think for themselves.
- So since God hates sin, and He has promised to punish those who sin (to correct us so we live according to His will - which is good, perfect and pleasing), AND at the same time, He loves us too much to let us receive the full result of our sin - DEATH, the only way He can reconcile us to Him is to punish HIMSELF! For who else can pay for all the sins of all people for all time once and for all? Certainly not mortals like us created in His image.
- That's just what He did - He stepped into time in the form of Jesus and died for each one of us - without having any control over who will actually be saved, because He has also given us free will to chose to accept Him or not. That means it is fair for me to say that God made that sacrifice even if it would result in only me being saved - how's that for a persoanl God?
What Being a Christian Means to Me?
Because He loves me, I want to love Him and honour Him in return. So I
- Accept Him into my life as Lord and Saviour (latter is so much easier than former, but they come together) . :) Having him as my Lord means literally, putting Him first in EVERYTHING.
- I seek to deepen my RELATIONSHIP with Him by communicating with Him (via reading His Word and praying).
The two feed each other, because when we communicate with the Lord, He continually shows us areas in our life that may not be right with Him - i.e. not in line with His good, pleasing and perfect will - and so in response we continue to make Him the Lord of our lives by changing these areas to please Him.