“...that I may gain Christ and be found in him...”—Philippians 3:8-9, NIV1984

Friday, June 1, 2012

Finding Real Life and Meaning

When I was 18 years old, I felt like I had everything I needed—a great family, achievement in school, and wealth, but I did not know why I would get depressed. I thought, “My life is meaningless. I must be missing something.” I would look to relationships with women for meaning. I would buy the latest electronics, the latest music, and give my time to help others in need. All of this was supposed to give me significance. It always left me empty.

After looking for significance everywhere, I thought maybe God would show me the answer. I started to read the New Testament in the Bible. What I read was amazing! When Jesus spoke, I felt like He spoke directly to me. I realized that God loved me, had a purpose for my life, and could give me real significance. I didn’t quite understand everything about who God was, but I knew I needed Him. After several months, the temptations of this world distracted me from God’s truth. I felt so guilty about the sins that I struggled with. I didn’t think it was possible for God to still love me.
Attribution: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-09958-0550 / CC-BY-SA
Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-09958-0550 / CC-BY-SA

The good news is that God didn’t give up on me. When I started college at the University of Florida, I made some friends who lived for Jesus Christ. They helped me to understand why Jesus came to the earth 2,000 years ago. They told me that every person has sinned and has not kept God’s standard of holiness. They told me that because I had sinned, I deserved death. I could not live with the holy God in Heaven because I was not holy. That really troubled me. I wanted to live for eternity in a satisfying relationship with God.

Then they told me why Jesus came. He is God’s son who lived a perfect and holy life. He was born as a man, yet He did not sin. Since Jesus is sinless and holy, He voluntarily died on the cross to pay the death I should pay. When He died on the cross, he died to pay for all of my past, present, and future sins. This was God’s gift to me and the rest of the world. I just needed to trust in Jesus, so I did. I told God that I was not going to trust in myself to be righteous. Instead, I believed, by faith, that Jesus died and rose again to free me from the slavery of my sins.

I realized that even though I was good by the world’s standards, I was not good by God’s standards. Up to this point, I thought that as long as I did more good things than bad, I would go to Heaven. This is not true, because God’s standard is perfect holiness. No amount of good deeds could ever pay for the sins I had committed. I could only be saved because God is graceful, as Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” I finally understood that I was not saved by my works.

This was so freeing to me! I no longer felt the burden of guilt and the immense pressure of trying to live a perfect life. Since the day that I believed in what Jesus did for me on the cross, I have experienced the true significance of knowing God as a personal friend, father, and loving shepherd. God has given me, like all followers of Jesus, the mission of taking this good news of salvation to the ends of the earth. There is nothing more significant than that!

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