When I was in college, a group of Christians befriended me and my friend. They were very nice to us, but I didn’t “get them”, I just didn’t. They were, to me, like birds of a different feather, a different breed of human. I was into partying hard (and other endeavors) and didn’t get these peculiar people who had come into my life. They invited me to a few lunches and Bible studies. I went, but still, I just didn’t get it or them. Honestly, for some reason I felt an odd sense of discomfort around them. I am quite sure that I judged them, labeling them (in my mind) as “wack-a-doodles” (don’t you love that word?)! I kind of felt sorry for them actually, that they had given up their “lives” to “follow Christ”. “What a waste”, was my thought. I soon grew bored with these Bible studies and lost touch with these people. If they were right, good for them, but I didn’t want to know. I wanted to live my life. If they had the truth, I didn’t want it. My friend was “out”, and so was I. I still couldn’t help but notice that there was something refreshing, something different, about them. Perhaps it was their love, joy, peace, patience and kindness.
My opinion and judgment of these Christians who I put in a box were born of my own faulty thinking and ignorant judgments rather than an intellectual pursuit of careful, factual research. I had grasped a blind faith that Christianity was not true. I had a belief system and faith. My faith was that Christians were wacky and I didn’t need it.
As it turns out, it takes more blind faith to believe that life is one big cosmic accident than it does to believe in an intelligent God who designed the world. I stand on the other side, now. I stand on the side of being labeled as the “Jesus Freak”. I have felt the judgment that I once placed onto other Christians. It’s not ideal, but it is what it is. People think that Christians are judgmental? Become one, and you will know what it is like to be labeled, continually. You will become all too familiar with being put in a box before people even get to know you, but oddly, you don’t really mind, deep down. The benefit far outweighs the cost. The judgments don’t matter, because the freedom, peace and joy that I have now far surpasses any sort of sorrow that silly judgment brings. It pales in comparison! I now understand what Jesus meant when He said, “then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”. Just as light sets us free from the dark, Jesus sets us free from bondage (that we never knew we had). I was living a stolen, destructive life, not a free life, though I did not see it that way then.
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” (Galatians 5:1)
I really thought I was “free” before. It’s like seeing only in black and white, until one day, someone tells you there is color. Color opens up a whole new world, and those who see in black and white cannot comprehend color until they experience it for themselves. When people talk of “color”, we can think they are just wacky. We can think we are quite happy and content in our black and white, that nothing more is needed at all. It’s a little difficult to explain color. It’s like speaking in a different language. To most, this all will sound plain silly, even foolish, but that is exactly what I am talking about.
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)
Perhaps that is not the best analogy. The difference is more than the difference of black and white vs. color – the difference is completely night and day – as different as dark is to light. It is weird and surreal being on the other side, because life is abundant and full now. My inner life, my soul, is better than ever. I see things I never saw before. I love people more. “Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling” (1 John 2:10). There is a peace that surpasses all human understanding. People have this notion that once they become a Christian, they have “lost their lives”, basically. I will tell you that it is quite the opposite.
True life is gained:
“Jesus said,’The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.'” (John 10:10)
“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25)
There is more to this Christianity thing than meets the eye, what’s at face value. I stand on the other side realizing that when I was in the dark, I did not get it. It’s only when a light is turned on that one realizes darkness is in fact darkness. I was not brainwashed or forced, I came to this conclusion on my own using my own intellect (because of God’s grace, of course). We cannot even see what is in the dark, until the light is turned on. Light is revealing. I realize now, in hindsight, that I was fine with my darkness, just fine. I was the wacky one for putting faith in my ignorance and quick judgments (not to mention – “popular opinion” – now that’s a dangerous notion to put one’s faith in) rather than gathering the facts and actually seeking truth. It is crazy to judge something without any information about it, wacky to make decisions based upon zero due diligence. Ignorance is easy, and I didn’t even know that my darkness was darkness. I didn’t know what I was stumbling and tripping on because it was dark.
I didn’t want to know if the darkness was darkness; I didn’t want to see what was in the dark. It didn’t even cross my mind, and I definitely didn’t want to be like those “wacky Christians”!
It’s funny that most of us believe in the great classical books, we would never doubt the validity of those, but when it comes to the New Testament, we dismiss and discard it without first getting the facts straight and doing the research. I have shared a video below about the historical accuracy and trustworthiness of the New Testament. The Bible is more historically accurate than any other literary work in existence and can be proven with science, but still, we discard it and judge it as hogwash. Why? Because we don’t want to know. Knowledge is power, but ignorance is bliss. If you were who I was two decades ago, you have already made up your mind and you think there is no use for exploring any evidence. I get you. And, I get those who you might think are wacky.
Perhaps the most commonly quoted scripture in the Bible is John 3:16, but most people who quote this leave out the verses immediately after, the ones about light and darkness:
For God So Loved the World
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:16-21; ESV; emphasis mine)
Paul (the apostle, you know, the one who is featured on stained glass windows in modern churches, who was once named Saul and hated the wacky Christians, throwing them into prison and even consenting to their deaths) had this same sort of thing happen to him. The Christians that he once persecuted and hated, he now loved and understood. For this reason, they were at first afraid of Paul. “They only were hearing it said, ‘He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy'” (Galatians 1:23). He was converted and went around preaching the Gospel. Gospel, from the Greek word euaggelion, means “good news” or “good tidings”.
There is a movie called The Case for Christ, based on the book by Lee Strobel. Despite its Roman Catholic tidbits (not a fan of Roman Catholicism due to my careful study of the religion), it was full of interesting, even scientific, pieces of evidence as to why Christianity and the Bible are true and trustworthy.
“Jesus stood up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.’ Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” (John 8:10-12)