Being a Christian is a really awesome thing. It is a privilege and an honor. It has changed my life to a point where I can only stand in awe and thank God for all that He has done.
I have walked this path following Christ for almost a decade now and for a great part of this decade I didn’t really know what I believe or how it impacts my life. Sure I knew the basic Christian doctrine and I knew the Bible and most of its stories, but I didn’t know what it actually means or the implications it has. Because of this I only had a partial view of what Christianity is all about. I struggled with sin and didn’t know why I still desired the things of this world. I was confused, because I knew that if I truly understood the Christian faith I would be changed. I knew that if I would truly encountered Jesus in His glorified state and not just understand a worldly description of Him, I would be changed.
And so I sought after and pursued the “real Jesus”, hoping to understand what my faith means. I got saved probably at the age of 12 years old and at the age of 19, even though I knew I was saved, I raised my hand at the altar call in church one Sunday morning, because I thought that I would experience Jesus if I did that; but life went on after a few days of feeling very motivated to make a change in my life. I got frustrated because I expected the altar call to change me. Being brought up in a church where they only baptize you when you are still a small baby, I later looked at baptism as the moment when I will experience Jesus change my life and that my heart will then pursue only Him. So I got baptized and nothing happened.
I got tired and frustrated of trying to find the “real Jesus”, but I always pursued Him. I would watch an incredible sermon online and feel so fired up to be the best Christian I can be, but then I realized that the passion within me eventually fades away and I still have a heart that desires worldly things even though I know God and believe in Him. I felt so disheartened, because no matter what I tried, nothing seemed to last. I was a Christian, but I only experienced moments where I truly loved and wanted to follow God, but then after these moments I became very lazy and undisciplined.
One of the great struggles I had was having devotions or quiet time with God. I knew God wanted me to pursue Him and as a Christian that is quite obvious. The thing is though, I knew what I was supposed to do, but I had no desire to do it. I would experience the fullness of this struggle at times when I would spend time playing PlayStation (Yes, Christians do Play PlayStation). I would sit in front of the TV, probably playing Fifa, as you do, and I would feel the Holy Spirit convict me to go to my room and spend time reading the Bible, pray and just talk to God, but I had just no desire to do so. And I would at times ask God why I am like this. Why is it so hard to just put down the controller, go to my room and read the Bible? It’s not like I had some bad experience spending time with God in the past. I always feel refreshed, filled with purpose and inspired after I spend time praying, reading His word and talking to Him about the things in my life. Yet I don’t want to exchange time playing Fifa, for time with the Creator of all things. It felt almost like I couldn’t just stand up and go to my room. It really felt so distant and I really couldn’t understand why, even though I know what I am supposed to, I still don’t do it.
My relationship with God would continue like this for years as I struggled to find the passion and will to pursue Him. I would do all the basic Christian things like go to church, live a “good” life and occasionally go on the You Version Bible app, but I had the hardest time setting time aside to purposefully pursue God as I so deeply felt God wanted me to do.
I couldn’t understand why my heart was content with other things and not God. I mean I’ve been a Christian for so many years why has my heart not changed? Why do I still prefer worldly things above God? I felt so guilty and ashamed, because I so seldom read my Bible even though I say I am a Christian.
I really wanted to change, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t change that which my heart desired. Ravi Zacharias once said, “The human heart is desperately wicked and would rationalize itself into justifying anything.” I was experiencing this! I wanted to change my heart, but I couldn’t. I know only God can change us and we find transformation in Him, but I had a problem with wanting to pursue Him so that transformation always seemed out of reach. Until one day God revealed the secret to me. I call it the WHAT, HOW and WHY of being a Christian and I pray that this makes sense to you.
The WHAT is the instruction manual to being a Christian. It is all the things a Christian should and should not do. This consists of things like going to church, reading the Bible, praying, loving your enemy, being humble etc. The list can go on forever. I think it is pretty clear what the job description of a Christian is when you read the Bible.
The second part is the WHY. This begs the question why should we follow Christ? Why should I be humble, why should I forgive, why should I die to myself, pick up my cross and follow Jesus? This is a personal journey for each one of us, whether you decide to follow Christ or not. I recently posted a photo on the To be Christian Instagram account and it said the following:
If you live without Jesus you won’t realize how great life can be with Him, but if you live with Jesus you realize how bad life would have been without him.
I follow Jesus because I believe in Him and love Him. I have tried life on my own and I have tried life with Jesus and I will always prefer doing life with Jesus. I can’t do it on my own and I don’t think anyone can. You might experience moments of temporary significance throughout your life without Jesus, but how do you deal with the meaning, origin and destiny of human life? How do you explain morality at its root? These gnawing questions lie deep within us and just often enough they present themselves in our thoughts. We can cover them up and ignore them, but I believe that the truth to these questions are only found in Christ and that real love, purpose and happiness, that goes beyond human understanding, can only be found in Him.
And now we come to the third and final part, the HOW. This is the part that I had such great difficulty dealing with. I knew WHAT I should do as a Christian and I also knew WHY I should do it, but I couldn’t get myself to do it. I didn’t know HOW to do it and yes it is obvious, as in the previous example I used, why don’t I just go to my room, pick up the Bible and start reading, but the HOW I am referring to is HOW do I get myself to want to go to my room and want to pick up the Bible and want to read?
This isn’t an easy question, because what the HOW is asking, is how do we change that which our hearts desire if it goes against our normal human tendency? How do we choose to do what we should do and not what we want to do? In some areas of our lives it might be easy, but in other areas it might be really difficult.
The answer to the HOW is quite simple and straightforward and I am so thankful that God gave me this answer. I have found that it is impossible for us as mere humans to change our hearts. Our actions confirm it every day. We all do, as Paul says in Romans 7:19, the bad which we don’t want to do, and fail to do the good which we want to do. The answer lies in admitting our inability to do what is required of us. God shows Himself strong in our weaknesses and God wants us to admit our inability and selfishness before Him. He wants us to realize that only a great God like Him can truly change our hearts. Some parts of our Christian journey might be easy and we are victorious in those areas, but other parts are empty and void and we struggle with them. God has no reason to fill the parts of our lives that are already filled. He wants to show Himself strong in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:8-9).
We need to stop exhausting ourselves by attempting to do this Christian journey on our own. We only end up more frustrated and tired at the end of the day. Let your prayer start with, “God I can’t. I want to, but I can’t.” I have seen the change in my own life. I have tried fasting so many times and have failed miserably, but when I rely on God’s strength I succeed at fasting for weeks. PlayStation no longer has a position above God, not even close. I know I am weak in that area and I daily ask God to strengthen me and He will never not strengthen us, because He desires for us to be like Him.
Think of every area in your life that you struggle with, whether it is temptations, anger, procrastination, food, lust, laziness, relationships, self-discipline or whatever it might be and take it to God in prayer and admit you need His help. God has His perfect plan and timing for every one of us so I am in no position to say that your life will dramatically change, but I have seen God do what I have struggled for years to do when I just kneel before Him and admit, with a sincere heart, that I need Him and He will help you too in accordance with His great plan and will for your life.