A few years ago, I was very spiritually confused. To me it seemed like all religions (especially the three major world religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam) were just alike. Most of them talked about being a good person, loving your neighbor and God, whomever he or she may be, etc. and I questioned, “What’s the difference between one and the other?” My family was Muslim when I was a kid. But I wasn’t exactly “raised in the mosque” or “raised in the church,” so to speak. My family started attending church when I was in middle school. So there I learned more about the Bible and God, and it was all very interesting to me. I sought to know God more and more as a Christian.
When I left home to go to a residential high school, I didn’t attend church very much, but still professed to be a Christian. In an environment with so many different ideologies, philosophies, ways-of-life and faiths, my own became very shaky. By the time I graduated high school, my spirituality was in a rut, but I didn’t want to let anyone know that. So while I still professed to be a Christian, I questioned whether Jesus Christ was the Messiah, and if he was truly the ONLY way to God and to heaven. I just wasn’t convinced anymore. I wasn’t ready to say that Jesus wasn’t right; but neither was I ready to say that he was the only one that had it right.
What if there are multiple heavens, one for Christians, one for Muslims, one for Buddhists, etc.? There are so many good people in the world; how can only Christians make heaven? All the religions say the same basic things about love, and doing good things etc., what’s the difference? If there are so many different cultures, how can there be one absolute truth? If I were born in different circumstances, I’d probably think of spiritually and religion differently – maybe I’d be Muslim, Buddhist, atheist even. What about some 86-year-old elder in some remote “third-world” country? If they never hear about Jesus, will they go to hell?
These are the types of questions that I thought almost every day, and I remember crying sometimes, because most of who I was at the time was built around a faith that I didn’t even believe. I remember my freshman year, when two people came up to me and asked, “Are you saved?” And of course I said yes. Then they asked, “If you were to die right now, how sure are you that you’d go to heaven?” I said, “About 99% sure” (but I really wanted to say something far lower, like about 20%). But because I wasn’t 100% sure, I didn’t have faith, I had doubt. Before that, my brother had even called me out about it one night when I stayed over his house. He said that God had told him that I didn’t believe. He was right. Even in my disbelief, and confusion, God was reaching out to me.
During my freshman year, someone sat down with me and, with a bible, talked to me about baptism in Jesus’ name and the baptism/reception of the Holy Spirit. I had heard of the Holy Spirit (Father, Son, Holy Ghost, etc.), but didn’t really know too much about him, or what his function was. But after seeing what the bible said about the Holy Spirit, somehow, I just knew that this is what I was missing. I repented of my sin, and decided to get baptized in Jesus’ name that same day, just like in the Bible (Acts 2:38, 8:15-16, 19:5, etc.), and soon after I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, just like in the Bible (Luke 3:16, John 1:33, Acts 1:5, 2:4, 10:44-48, 19:2-6). My life has never been the same.
Do I still have questions? Of course! But my confidence in Christ and in the name of Jesus weighs far more now than any doubts.
Since being born again, God has shown himself so very real to me, and his presence and truth are undeniable in my life. He has physically healed me from a disease; he has delivered me from sexual perversion, he’s delivered me from depression, he has fathered me, he has pursued me and he’s showing me how to do humanity his way. I love him so much. When I think about my Creator, his never-ending love and all that he is to me, I’m often moved to tears. Sometimes I wonder if people look at my worship and think I’m doing too much. I always feel like I’m not doing enough. If they only knew all that God has done for someone so unworthy as me, they would tell me to go harder in worship! I owe him so much appreciation and gratitude. So I’ve committed to living out the rest of my days in this life as a “thank you.” And when at last I meet him face-to-face, it will be an all-day after party with my love and my king.