[The following is a letter that I sent to a dear friend of mine to tell him about my relationship with Jesus. My prayer is that is will encourage you to consider the turth of Jesus Christ. I also pray that Christians may be encourged by this letter to share Jesus with their friends.]
How are you doing? I hope all is well with you. Things are going good here. The weather has been so crazy up here lately. We’ve had snowstorms, ice, rain, wind and downed trees. Some people were without power for a couple of weeks. I am longing for the weather to get nice enough to ride again. I am going through withdrawals.
Well, I have wanted to write this letter to you for a long time now. In fact I tried to arrange a time to take you out for lunch before you moved away from Alamogordo so that we could talk, but the timing didn’t work out. I got back from some trip just before you left and your family was there. At any rate, I resolved that day that I would write you a letter containing the message I wanted to tell you.
First of all, I want you to know some things about how I see you. Guys don’t often discuss their feelings so it may come as a surprise for you to know that I value your friendship very much. I consider you one of my closest friends. I respect and admire you for being a man of integrity, of personal conviction, honesty, and fairness. I think that frequently people miss that about you and don’t take the time to look into your motives and why you say and do the things you do. I want you to know that I get it. While I have not always agreed with your opinions on every issue, I have always respected your beliefs because I know that they come from a genuine desire for justice.
Additionally, I also think that you are one of the most intelligent, and knowledgeable people I have ever met. I find myself frequently amazed by your intellectual grasp of some of the most obscure and hard to comprehend concepts. Your ability to not flinch in the face of advanced scientific principles, problems, and ideas has inspired me. I have decided to attempt things because of your example that I wouldn’t have thought I could do.
It is precisely these traits about you that I want to appeal to. I know that we have discussed Christianity and Jesus off and on over the past couple of years. I have tried very ineptly and ineffectively to explain to you the reasons I believe that Jesus is indeed the Son of God, that he did come to earth as a man and live a sinless life, that he chose to die an excruciatingly painful death for our sins, and that he was raised from the dead. We didn’t talk that often about it because I sensed that you didn’t wish to. I respected your desires, perhaps too much, and didn’t bring it up that often. Although, truth be told, it was on the tip of my tongue trying to escape my lips more often than not.
In fact, you probably won’t believe this (but it must be said because it is the truth), God was telling me to talk to you about this. I was often kept awake at night because I was acting in direct contradiction to what God was clearly telling me to do. You see, God is not just this spirit that floats around in the clouds and watches his great science experiment from a safe distance. He is real and He cares very deeply for every one of us on earth. ________, God loves you, more perfectly than anyone ever has. He has chosen you because He loves you. All of those intellectual qualities, that innate desire to do right and seek truth, He has put that in you. He created those traits in you so that they would eventually drive you to discover the truth of His existence and enter into a relationship with Him.
You may be asking why is he writing this to me? The honest reason is because I care about you. I deeply believe that I have discovered the truth and that this truth truly will set you free. It has set me free. It has drastically changed my life and my being from the inside out. I am a transformed person. I am not who I was 10 years ago. I know that I am far from the person I need to be. I recognize that I haven’t always provided the best example for you of what a Christian should be. In truth, that is one reason that I haven’t discussed it with you more. But, if it weren’t for Jesus in my life I wouldn’t be anything like I am today. Jesus is continually molding me into the person He has called me to be. Any good that you see in my life is not there because of my doing. It is Jesus Christ shinning through the cracks of my sinful nature. If you want proof of this you should ask my wife. Ask her if I am the same person she married 6 years ago, or if I’m the same person she met when we started dating 9 years ago. You wouldn’t even recognize me! It more than just maturing. People don’t really change themselves much. When you see that kind of change it is got to be something else.
So, Why do I believe in Jesus? I believe mostly because I grew up in a family that put Him as the center of our lives. I chose to become a Christian at the age of 6, so I can’t really tell you stories about experiencing the world before I met Jesus. But I can tell you that when I did accept Him, something inside me changed forever. Those desires I had to hurt others and live for myself began to fade away. They were replaced by new desires. I found that I began to want to act kindly towards my family and others and I found that when I lived the way that God wanted me to my life was more rewarding and I was happier. God taught me to put others ahead of myself, something that goes so contradictory to my previous desires and to what I saw the rest of the world doing.
As I grew up I saw my parents live out their beliefs. They showed me what it meant to be a follower of Jesus. Since my Mom and Dad started a church and then pastored another, over the years I saw people who were disbelievers trapped by the weight of their sin become happy, life-filled followers of Jesus. I literally saw Jesus change their lives before my eyes. I have seen countless answers to prayers (some of which you probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you). I have seen miracles. I have seen people healed from illnesses that doctors said they were going to die from. I’ve seen the power of evil and the presence of the enemy (Satan), and I have seen the conquering power of faith in Jesus Christ. I have seen God break addictions to drugs, alcohol, and pornography. I have heard his still small voice guiding me and helping me make decisions. I’ve seen marriages saved, lives mended, and families restored. I have seen the power of God and how He uses that power in the lives of His followers.
But more than any of this, I have KNOWN him. The greatest reason I believe is that I have a relationship with Jesus. That’s not just a phrase I keep repeating. It is a living and active relationship as real to me as my relationship with you or my wife! I dialog with Him. I talk to Him and He talks back to me. Not audibly, but within my soul and through His word (the Bible). It is God who told me it was time to get out of the Air Force. I can feel His Holy Spirit in me. He brings ideas, feelings, and words to my mind that I know didn’t come from me. He urges me to do things that otherwise I’d have no personal desire to do. This is something a non-Christian can never understand, relate to, or believe, because you have never experienced it for yourself. But, as one who has a relationship with Him, I can tell you that there is no other relationship in life more fulfilling or satisfying than a relationship with your creator. A relationship with a parent, or even a spouse can’t even come close. Jesus completes me in a way that no human being ever could. God created humans with a void in their life that nothing can fill, except Him. People inherently know they’re not complete. They live their lives trying desperately to fill that void with something. They try filling the gap with things, money, relationships, sex, drugs, and power but nothing really satisfies. It always leaves them feeling empty and wanting more. This is why wealthy people are some of the unhappiest people around. They have it all and it’s not enough. This is because all of us have a God sized whole in our heart. We need that relationship with Him. It is what we were created for.
So, that’s why I believe. But, why should you believe? As I mentioned earlier it is your intellect, reasoning, honesty, objectivity, and commitment to the truth that I appeal to. You once told me that your intellectual and theological doubts prevented you from believing in Jesus. You said that you didn’t think faith was really a choice. You either have it or you don’t. You either believe that something is true or you don’t. I still disagree in the sense that I think faith is ultimately a choice and you can never know anything is 100% true, but I see the point you were making. I concede that a person is more easily persuaded when the evidence points towards one conclusion over another. But, Psychologists will tell you that your beliefs are ultimately your choice. A person can chose to believe something is true even when confronted with irrefutable evidence that their belief is wrong.
God says everyone is granted a measure of faith. It is up to you what you put your faith in. That being said, with regard to believing in Jesus, you don’t have to put your intelligence aside and go on “blind faith”! In fact, I believe that if you apply your discernment, intelligence, and common sense to this issue you will weigh the facts and conclude based on the preponderance of evidence that Jesus is in fact the Messiah, He is who He says He is, He did come to this earth to save us from our sins, and He did rise from the dead. I think if you come at this issue objectively, your integrity and loyalty to the truth will force you to conclude the same. Just because faith is a choice doesn’t mean it has to be a blind choice.
I challenge you to see for yourself. Don’t rely on what you’ve heard from others. Dig into this issue for yourself. Read the Bible. I’ve included this Book by Lee Strobel, “The Case for Christ”, which I recently finished reading, to help you. You have been willing to read books in the past that are contrary to your opinions. I’m asking you to use that same objectivity and read this book with an open mind. Lee Strobel is a renowned investigative journalist (not just in Christian circles) and he does an excellent job of concisely summarizing the body of evidence supporting Jesus in this book. He takes you along on his personal quest for the truth as he starts as a skeptic and comes to the realization that the best conclusion he can draw is that Jesus is who He said He was.
This book may just be the starting point for you. It isn’t possible to extensively cover all of the evidence thoroughly in one light reading book (although Lee makes a very good attempt). I urge you to look as deep as you need to. Don’t turn away from this quest prematurely. If you need to, talk to other experts. I know the further you dig the more convincing the case will become. If you have any questions let me know. I don’t have all the answers but I am connected to a lot of very smart people (with PhD’s on this stuff) who can address your concerns. I also have more books and resources that you might find helpful. My pastor speaks and reads Hebrew and Greek and reads the bible in its original translation. His insights into the Bible are often amazing to me. If you would like to talk directly to him here is his contact info. I am sure he would love to discuss any issue, problem, theological stumbling block, or question you have. Just tell him I told you to talk to him.
I can’t stress enough that I feel this issue is of the utmost importance! I do feel that ultimately your eternal destiny hangs on this. If I didn’t think that I wouldn’t push so hard. Speaking of that, I hope I haven’t offended you. If I have, just understand that I believe that your eternal destiny hangs in the balance here. My motives are pure.
I’ll leave you with this thought. If I am wrong about all this and Jesus was just some extremely convincing teacher from 2000 years ago who died and his followers invented this story that he rose from the grave, what have I lost? Think about it for a minute. Could you say that I have wasted my life by praying, going to church, and putting others ahead of myself? I would say that I am a better person for that, and my life has been much happier and more fulfilling because if it. Could you say that I am a fool because I invented a crutch to help me get through life? I would say that this “crutch” has enabled me to go beyond the limits of my selfish nature and has helped my through the toughest times in my life. I have found joy in the midst of pain and hardship. But, on the other hand, what if I’m right and Jesus is God and the only way we can overcome our sins and enter into communion with our creator? What if Jesus is the only answer for sins and the only salvation from eternal separation from God (hell)? What will you have lost by denying him?
“. . . these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” ~ John 20:31