My story begins when I was just a small boy. I grew up in Reading, Pennsylvania, where my parents took us to a strong church. They taught me the Bible from an early age and made sure I was living according to God’s Word. I was taught how I could be 100% sure I was forgiven of my sins and headed to Heaven. Several times as a child, I remember thinking: “I don’t want to go to Hell! I’ll pray to God and ask him to save me.” I thought that because I had recited this prayer to God, He would look favorably on me. I assured myself I was safe. If I died, I assumed I would most likely go to Heaven. However, I was gravely mistaken; I had no idea what it meant to be saved.
As I got older, I continued to believe that I was safe with God. Why wouldn’t I be? After “It wasn’t until my freshman year of college when I began doubting that I had been truly saved.”all, I had been baptized; I was still going to church every day, reading my Bible, and putting money in the plate, and furthermore, everyone else thought I was a Christian. Unfortunately, when you grow up in this type of environment, it is easy to let God’s offer of salvation become meaningless and stale.
It wasn’t until my freshman year of college when I began doubting that I had been truly saved. I began to see things in my life that just could NOT be part of a Christian’s life. In particular, my selfishness was really worrying me. I treated all my friends as investments: if I gave them something, they will eventually be able to give me something. I began to see that I was literally not capable of loving someone without having thoughts of getting something in return. Even when I did something kind, my only thought was to have people admire me and think I was a great person. If there wasn’t something in it for me, I had no intention of helping anybody! It truly was all about me, myself, and I.
This troubled me! Why? Because God says: “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death” (1 John 3:14). This verse described me! ” I was not capable of loving anyone other than myself.” I was not capable of loving anyone other than myself. God was saying that I was spiritually dead in His eyes. If I was a genuine Christian, I would be able to love as Christ had done. He was able to give everything (His own life) for us. However, I simply could not do it. I had tried so many times to reform my life! The Bible was clear; there was no way I could have been a Christian.
This ugly fact began to set in. I began to think of all the acts of kindness that had been shown to me. I wondered how I could have been so selfish in return to my family and friends. At this moment, I began to see how God saw me: a wicked, vile sinner. It didn’t matter that I was being outwardly kind to my friends. Isaiah 64:6 says: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” I honestly began to hate how sinful and selfish I had been. This is what I was missing when I was a child! I had no idea how sinful I was as a person. Until you can see yourself as God sees you, you cannot be forgiven of your sins. On November 20, 2012, I asked the Lord to forgive me of how wicked I had been; I had faith that He could save me and change me (something I could have never done by myself). At that moment, my burden was lifted and I knew I had been saved once and for all. After that day, I wasn’t perfect by any means, but for the first time in my life, I was actually capable of showing genuine, Christ-like love. It was a transformation only God could have brought about!