Photo by Jay Garcia Photography
It wasn't too long ago when I gave my life to Christ for the first time. Actually, this month, October 11, marks my 5 year anniversary. That day has got be one of the best days of my life. I had my lifetime partner with me and from then on my being changed forever.
My life before Christ was a great one, but a lost one. I use before Christ and after Christ to describe myself because my life drastically changed... for the better... with a few hardships.
As I was beginning to grow in my walk with Christ, I surrounded myself with many women of God. At the age of 24, my friends consisted of women the same age as my mother. They mentored me in ways I bet they're not even aware of. They gave me the best advice to live by as professional woman, a wife, a mother and as a human being. They were living proof that Jesus' way is an amazing lifestyle. They shared scripture with me and others. They taught life by using the Word of God and to my surprise as a young Believer, it was beautiful and made sense.
I wanted to be that type of woman- a Godly woman.
At the age of 25, I walked into a bookstore solely with the purpose of buying a Bible for the first time. It was a huge thing for me. I remember thinking in college, the Bible was a sexist book that was full of ancient teachings and myths- yes myths! I thought it was a lie. Oh and all these assumptions were made with out ever opening a Bible.
It wasn't until I had my son at the age of 26, to where I fully surrendered my life. I had finally grasped an understanding and belief of God's power and purpose. I put all my faith in God to heal my son and I as we laid in hospital beds for nights after my son's birth. I placed all my faith in Him and all my thoughts on His Word as I spent mornings and nights reading Bible plans and Bible studies with other women in hopes of being healed from postpartum depression. My faith in God worked in my favor.
I wanted to share this cure with others. I wanted to live the way Jesus lived and I wanted others to do the same so that they can be blessed like I was. Coincidently, I started to learn about discipleship and to my amazement, Jesus wants all of his followers to be disciples.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of
the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”
Matthew 28:19 NIV
This is when my heart started breaking.
First, I started doubting my ability to share Jesus with others. I hadn't read the entire Bible. But what I had read, I wanted to share. And what I had experienced, I wanted to share. So I went for it!
Who else to share it with first than family and friends I had known since I was adult teen? I figured they'd be excited and understanding of my new awakening.
My family was very glad to hear I was spiritually growing and my friends were welcoming. They saw the blessings I had received- an amazing husband and a beautiful son. It was similar for Jesus when he returned to his home country, Galilee.
“When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him.
They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival,
for they also had been there.”
John 4:45 NIV
As my journey with Christ filled me with wisdom, I started to realize how my lack of faith in the previous years caused damage in my life. Because I didn't have God's guidance and Jesus' Words in my heart, I had made choices that were harmful to my soul. I realized this because as I learned more about Jesus, I practiced his way and my confidence and self-love grew.
I no longer felt unable, but empowered through Christ.
As my friends and I discussed our opinions about God, other "gods", life, dating and marriage, my beliefs changed from a skeptical believer to a Christ follower. I was no longer in agreement with the worldly ways and shared my knowledge from what I learned by reading the Bible. My friends became offended and rejected my views.
I was confused at first and felt like I should've just kept my mouth shut. I didn't understand how they as believers were offended by what the Bible says. But it wasn't what the Bible said that offended them, it was the person that quoted the Bible that offended them- me.
I- a sinner, a human, a friend- was not righteous enough to state the unrighteousness. I came off as judgmental. They told me to stop judging them and to not share my views. I wasn't wise enough or confident enough to be questioned by such intellectually, successful and strong-willed women. My purpose for sharing Christ's way was not manifesting in my friends like I thought it would. I separated myself from them for awhile to grow with people who would encourage my relationship with Christ without trying to contradict or twist my words.
“All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this.
They got up, drove him out of the town,
and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built,
in order to throw him off the cliff.
But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.”
Luke 4:28-30 NIV
When skepticism grew over Jesus, the Pharisees and high priests questioned him and tried to trap him into saying or doing something that contradicted what he taught. Of course, Jesus was too wise to fall into such a trap, but still the Pharisees accused him of being blasphemous for saying he is the Son of God. Thus, he began focusing more on teaching his chosen 12 disciples and sharing parables with his followers.
"... because opposition to His teaching was rising, He chose not to use plain language. This made it harder for His enemies to distort His words. Parables are as effective as direct speech, or more so, yet they avoid the harshness and offensiveness of a more direct approach." (Christ in the Synoptic Gospels, McClaflin, pg. 163).
Jesus was/is this amazing teacher. He knew the people and was able to change His style of teaching to effectively share his message with others. (I wish I was this wise, but I'm learning.) He didn't spend his time arguing with non believers and critics. Instead he told his disciples,
“If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words,
leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.” -Matthew 10:14 NIV
As I'm taking this class in ministry and learning more about Jesus, it became more apparent that he was widely rejected by His people. I know what you're thinking. Duh, Mary. He was crucified.
Yes, I know. But without really ever knowing Christ's history, his environment, his setting, the societal norms of his time, I never grasped how devastated he must've felt to be rejected by people he knew; people who witnessed His miracles; people he loved. And to have a similar feeling of rejection for sharing his way of life, learning about Christ hit me hard. It opened my eyes to what He really meant when he said,
“If the world hates you,
keep in mind that it hated me first.” -John 15:18 NIV
This scripture also gives me hope. A lot of His critics became believers. That's the power of God; the power of Christ.
So even though I may be rejected by friends and strangers, Christ still holds the power and will to work in their lives and I'm praying He does. That's love.