Hello, my name is Christopher and this is my story of how I came to know Jesus Christ, commit my life to Him, and how I follow him daily.
I will start by sharing that like some of you, I grew up familiar with church and knowing many Christians. But, as I grew older and more mature (actually, it happened when I turned 16 years old and could drive), I slowly started to walk away from faith and church. However, when I was 20 years old, I started to feel a part of me yearning to know God. So I started to attend a church, I read my Bible in the book of Genesis and the Gospels, and I even attended a “Harvest Crusade” in Turlock which was a large scale evangelism outreach put on by Greg Laurie from Southern California.
Despite all of my “faith” activities, I had not yet committed my life to Jesus Christ. This was not because I was doubtful about whether or not Jesus existed or that He was the son of God, but I still was not sure what it meant to follow Jesus. As I read the Gospels of Jesus’ teachings, all I read was a bunch of stories and sayings that I did not understand. Often I would mark up my Bible with question marks and thoughts trying to make sense of what I was reading. And as I read, I would think, “I know I have read or heard this story before.” As I read the Bible, I found many things that were said which confused me as much as they taught me. The one verse I read which stuck out to me the most was when I read Luke 22:26-27 where Jesus is talking to His disciples during the Last Supper and He says,
Those who are the greatest should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. Normally the master sits at the table and is served by his servants. But not here! For I am your servant.
This verse stuck with me for two reasons:
- This was very contrary to the leadership in our culture; and
- It taught me that Jesus came here to be the One who serves us. That verse helped me realize the depth of Jesus’ love for us and that He came to earth and gave up His life for us because He loved us so much.
I continued to read my Bible, attend church, and luckily I was around people who allowed me to experience my faith and get to know what it meant to follow Jesus without feeling pressured to commit my life to Him and did not ridicule me for not having already made that decision. I remember having coffee with the senior pastor of our church and he asked me if I had committed my life to follow Jesus. I told him that I had not made that decision yet and that I was still wrestling with what it meant to follow Jesus. He was ok with that and encouraged me to keep reading my Bible and attending church.
I believe in my heart that I was on that 4 year journey for a reason. God was watching over me and with me while I learned what it meant follow Him and His son.
Before I made that commitment to follow Jesus, I had many people (mostly men) who officially and unofficially discipled me. The main one was a man named Steve Elliott who has worked as a pastor for over 40 years! I met Steve at church and he saw leadership potential in me and offered to mentor me. Steve and I began meeting once a month on a Wednesday at Starbucks at 6 AM to mentor me as a young leader. And through that process Steve slowly dropped Christ in on me. At times he would share the gospel, talk about Jesus, or share his personal story with me about how he came to know Jesus Christ. Even though Steve never pushed me to commit my life to Christ, he was always there to talk to me and be a picture of what a Godly leader looks like. For the three years Steve has discipled and mentored me, much of the time he was just using the topic of leadership to show me Christ.
Another example of a man who discipled me and mentored me was a guy who, again before I was a Christian, had shared what it meant to be an authentic Christian man. We were driving to Merced together for a meeting and he shared with me some of the positive changes that were going on in his life. And those positive changes were related to his faith and how he was learning what it meant, as a man, to keep his eyes and mind pure. He taught me, before I was a Christian, how to be a Christian man who keeps my eyes and thoughts pure.
So, as you can see, along the way I was able to continue my journey, and God put significant people in my life to guide me towards a relationship with Jesus.
Among the church attendance, reading my Bible, and having significant Christian men in my life, I was also spending significant time in prayer. I still have those prayers I wrote back when I was in that time of seeking to know who God was and what it meant to commit my life to Jesus and actively follow Him. And throughout all of these times of being discipled and attending church and reading my Bible and praying I always had a feeling that God was real. In a way, I could feel God. So for me, my decision to follow Jesus was not about having scientific facts that what is in the Bible is true or that I could see God’s work in the miracles in this world. For me, it was a feeling that God was there and that He was watching over me and guiding me.
And that finally leads me to the point of when I did make that decision to commit my life to follow Jesus. I was having some conversations with a friend named Jen (now she is officially my girlfriend). Jen had some conversations with me about what it meant to commit my life to Jesus. And little did I know that she had been praying for me to commit my life to Jesus (because she knew from past conversations that I was not a Christian) and she had worked to prepare some verses from the book of Romans to share with me if we happened to come to that topic.
I remember we were talking on her couch one evening during the week after we had enjoyed dinner together and she brought up the topic of “what sins I might have.” I told her that I had given a lot of thought to my sins and committing my life to Jesus, but that I did not quite understand what it meant to make that decision. I had heard it talked about, but I was not exactly sure what it meant based on scriptures. Because Jen had done some research on the Romans Road and already had the scripture verses marked in her Bible, she was able to walk me through what it clearly meant to commit my life to follow Jesus. It was after her sharing those verses with me and talking with me about what it meant to commit my life to Jesus that it all started to make sense. I realized that I needed to confess my sins to God, acknowledge that Jesus was God’s son who died on the cross for those sins, and then I needed to commit my life to follow Jesus. (At least that is how I understood it.)
While at her house she offered to pray with me about my salvation and lead me to committing my life to Jesus, but I told her that I wanted to think about it and pray about it. And that same night, in my journal, I felt that it all finally made sense. I realized that: 1) I could not do everything in my life on my own; 2) Jesus was the son of God; 3) Jesus died for my sins; and 4) All I had to do to be His follower was confess my sins and promise to follow Him.
Going forward, my life has been a journey as a Christian. It has been good and bad at times, but mostly good. I have had to try to learn more about what it means to be an authentic Christian in a non-Christian world. I have had to clean up my mouth and watch what words I say (no more dropping f-bombs). I have had to succumb to the laws and principles of God and not try to do everything on my own. I have learned to submit to authority figures at work. And I have learned to love, respect, and serve my girlfriend like Jesus loved the Church (which is a tough one).
Turning my life over to Jesus has been important to me because my life is no longer about me. Life is no longer about my work, ministry, legacy, or the impact that I make. It is now about bringing honor to God. Before following Jesus I used to do everything on my own. I would work and do ministry and if I failed, the feelings of worthlessness came to mind, and if I did not match up, then I felt that I was a loser and was worthless, because I was always working for the world’s approval and benefit. But now, I work for Jesus. I work for Jesus because life is about Him, not me.
An example is that in the past the main thing that I focused my time and attention on was golf. I would work so hard at the game of golf, and if I tried and failed, I felt alone. Because I was on my own trying to do things by myself, I felt terrible, often to the point that I did not think I could handle the pain. As a result, I began using drugs at first to cope, and then alcohol later on as a way to deal with those feelings of aloneness and heart ache. Luckily, God was watching over me and protected me through all of those experiences. And when I started to seek God and know Him, things got better. When I would do my best to attempt things, God was there, watching me, waiting for me, ready to comfort me. That process started to happen as I was being discipled and reading my Bible, and it still continues to this day.
Now, when I do my best to work hours on a grant proposal at work only to have my bosses return it to me saying that I need to start over from scratch because they do not think it was worthy of being given a grant, I am able to cope. I am able to cope with that type of feedback because my life is not about me and my work, it is about working for Jesus and His approval, not the world’s approval of my work. Those times of pain still come up, they still hurt, but God is there to comfort me through my pain and tears.
Because of the decision that I have made to follow Jesus and the experiences that I have had along the way, there are many reasons I believe that we all should become Christians. Like I already said, I became a Christian because I believed that God exists and that God sent His Son, Jesus, as a sacrifice for our sins. Based on that, I believe that everyone should become a Christian because God exists, He sent His son to die for us, He loves us, and He wants to have a relationship with Him. And the way that you get to have that relationship is by telling God that you believe in him, that you believe His Son died for you, and that you want to have a personal relationship with Him by actively living your life as a follower of Him.
This is my testimony to declare my commitment to Jesus. As you have read, there were many people and experiences along the way that led me to make that decision to commit my life to Jesus. Because of that, I believe that my decision to follow Him was just as much a process of getting there over four years as it was to actually making the decision.
Question: Do you know and follow Jesus? If so, why? If not, why not?