Tonight, I was surfing on Netflix and stopped on The Passion. I remember when it first came out. I heard people were crying about it. Sniffing it up in the theatres and I didn’t really understand why. It was just another film about a guy dying—and personally, I had NO INTEREST in seeing it. Wasn’t my type of film. I didn’t really understand it. Now almost 6 years later, I’m watching the story that I have read over and over, on the screen of my laptop and am bawling like I never had before. Last year, during my semester long bible study on the book of Mark, I remember when I read the end of the book, I cried and the sense of pain, happiness, and triumph washed over me. It was the first time I had actually taken Jesus seriously and I remember really starting my journey that summer of 2012.
Up until that point—I had the tag name of a Christian all my life. I remember vividly realizing in high school that I held the tag of a Christian because my parents were, but inside, I did my own thing. I was my own person. I went to Catholic church all my life, and I decided there was nothing there for me. Just show up on Sunday (some sundays) then live out your life the best way that you can. That’s the way I saw everyone else do it. My peers especially. It wasn’t until I met a girl in my drama club who had just transferred to my school. She was so weird to me. She talked about Jesus so much. She carried her bible around in school and I even caught her reading it in class. Not only that, but she was such a warm spirit to be around. She laughed, smiled, and didn’t seem to be condemning as most devout Christians I know. I thought it was weird, but a part of me was so intrigued. What was it that she had? I had never seen this type of devoutness before in a person—let alone a high school student! I remember almost being stalkerish at some point, watching the way she was. Reading her blog online and talking to her extensively about her beliefs and what she does. The key to the place I am now was my curiosity. My posture of seeking. I had no idea what compelled me to do so, but I did—not even really knowing that that was the answer to my truth!
But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul. — Deut 4:29
Fast Forward. Entered college. It was exciting. I had even by coincidence met a group of friends who were in a Christian organization and uncannily, the same spirit that I experienced in the girl in high school, I got from them as well. I hung out with them once in a while, but overall I did my own thing. Up until things got real during my first semester. I was away from home. My relationship was getting rocky. My grades were slipping. I was just developing friends so there was no one solid I could turn to. I forgot about the girl in high school completely. It was just me—in my deep despair. At some point during the semester, I remember being recommended to go and see a therapist—and I did. And while it alleviated some issues, it wasn’t the ultimate solution.
That was my first semester. A complete blur. Second semester, the same issues recurred, only this time I was urged by a friend to try an outside activity other than sitting in my room in isolation or going to the therapist. I joined a bible study and they studied the book of Mark, a book that outlines the life of Jesus. That bible study was an even bigger blur. I learned about the miracles. Cool. I learned about some of the stuff Jesus said. Awesome. Whatever. They weren’t helping me in my struggles. I felt far away. I knew the knowledge of Jesus, but He hadn’t entered into my heart the way that someone does when you love them and you know them.
I think it’s also important to note that during our bible studies, the Christian org (called Intervarsity—it’s on most college campuses) had set up the studies in a way where we could learn about the gospel in a way where we took it from an academic perspective and we had to supply our own answers and conclusions to what was going on. It wasn’t force fed or dictated to us, simply because the ministry leaders believed that the gospel was way more powerful to an individual that SOUGHT out the answers for themselves. (There were also non-believers that ended up giving their lives to Christ that summer as well) And while it didn’t impress me in the beginning—it sure wrangled me in the end. Aside from the demons, the miracles, the wonders, and the people you see from Westboro Baptist church, I saw the real Jesus. Not the Jesus that people have changed, lied about, mis-represented, manipulated. This guy was someone who had deep love. Who’s core reason for EVERYTHING was off the basis of real, deep, hungry, love. The description of Him crawling up the mountain, holding His cross while people spat in His face, getting mocked, and being nailed like an animal to a wooden plank—all the while praying and begging God to forgive the soldiers and crowd that were torturing/beating Him, pained me. Jesus, a man of complete innocent standing, being persecuted in front of crowd, while they chant to let a murderer go in replacement for Jesus’s blood—and Jesus accepting it, knowing that He MUST follow through for the sake of the world. That tore me apart. He did this for me. He did this for me? I don’t even know Him. I’m not even in the same era. Yet—this was done for every single person in the whole world, whether you believed in Him or not.
If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. —John 12:47
What is this? No other religion has this. No other religion can top this. This is absolutely outrageous. I remember crying and feeling so guilty for all the years that I had wasted. Ignoring him. Rejecting him. But relief overwhelmed my soul. I can start over. I can do this the right way this time. And when I do it—I will give it my all and even try to share with other people. The reason why I am here today is not because my parents told me to. It’s not because I am fearful that I will go to hell. I am here because I have been called out by love. Deep down—every human wants that and searches for it extensively whether it be through thrill seeking, or relationships. But there is nothing I can tell you more satisfying than the love I have experience from Jesus. I makes my throat tight and heart swell up just thinking about it. I asked a couple weeks ago if you can truly live a life without God and my conclusion was that you can. But I believe it is the equivalent to holding on to a pie made out of mud, being satisfied with the mud-pie, while never knowing that there is a freshly baked, yummy pie right behind you. Some don’t recognize it. Some don’t even want it. I can say this with SINCERE honesty because I was one of those people that held the mud-pie. Content with my portion of mud—not really caring about whatever else there was. Yeah—I had to struggle in order for my belief in Jesus to be spawned, but everyone has a different story. You don’t necessarily have to struggle (although—it doest motivate!) As you age and as the seasons pass, circumstances and your heart will change—and you will eventually ask yourself at some point “there must be more than this”. Some might think about the question, ignore it and move on. Or some will be like me and go on the quest for the truth. Pontius Pilate in the film, sat down, troubled by the statement Jesus had made before He was carried off to be tortured. What IS the truth?
"Everyone who is of the truth—hears my voice." —Jesus in The Passion.
Unfortunately, the story doesn’t go on to tell if Mr. Pilate ever did some seeking.
I write this blog tonight for a couple reasons. I thought it was appropriate to put a more humanistic side to why I am so strong headed about my beliefs. I wrote it because I realize that from the outside in, I look like a “religious” fanatic. Hey hey, I take offense to that word. The rules and rites are not the center of why I love God. It’s because of the true love I experienced. There are many that are “religious” and NEVER ever know who God is. I also wrote it because I understand the place that most non-believers or nominal Christians are coming from. “The story of Jesus doesn’t connect.” “I have my own life to attend.” “I’m too lazy to care.” I was there before. I prompt you—if you are still reading this post, to not deny that question or curiosity that bubbles up in you when it comes to Christianity. If it ever does—follow through. And if you’re content in your life and you enjoyed my blog because it’s nice to read about other people’s lives, then I’m glad you took the time to read it. But now you know that there is a little more to Christianity than what you previously knew. It’s cliché—but whether you care or not Jesus loves you deeply and hopes that one day you’d try giving it a chance. But ultimately, you are responsible at this point with how you respond to the message.
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