I was born into a family that taught about Jesus and used the Bible, and so had a stable childhood. My parents taught me to do what I was told, to be respectful, and do what was right. When I was five years old, our family moved to Chile as missionaries. Every Sunday we were in church, and my dad would preach. Sometimes I paid attention, but many times my mind wandered, and in the years just before becoming a teenager, I would flat out ignore what was being said. I said to myself, “I’ve heard it all before.” From the countless times of hearing the Bible stories told, to hearing how Jesus died on the cross for the sins of all people, I could have explained it all in detail myself; but I simply didn’t care.
Looking at other people around me I thought I was pretty good, at least I didn’t do anything the Bible said was really bad, in my opinion. I thought I was okay: “Sure I did wrong, but I hadn’t done anything that other people didn’t do.”
One Sunday night in June of 2003, when I was twelve years old, a message from the Bible caught my attention. As the preacher spoke on verses 1 through 6 of Ephesians chapter 2, God showed me how guilty I really was. Rebellious? that was me; I never wanted to do what my parents said, and either lied to get out of it, or did what I was told just to escape the punishment. Lusts? Yes, by age twelve I already had a filthy mind toward girls. Wrath? I had a bad reputation for getting angry and fighting. From what the Bible said, and what I knew about myself, I was an angry, rebellious, lying, thieving, adulterer at heart. I suddenly saw myself as the guilty sinner that God said I was. I suddenly saw myself as the guilty sinner that God said I was. My sin was so evil that Jesus chose to go to the cross in my place! I realized that I was deserving of God’s punishment. That punishment is a lake of fire, also called Hell in many other parts of the Bible. Though I might have convinced many to think I was a Christian, I was bound for the Lake of Fire.
The next verses that the preacher spoke on in John chapter 11 told of how Jesus said, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live,” and in that chapter Jesus called a man who had been dead for four days back to life! It became clear to me how Jesus wanted to give me a new life! He wanted to forgive me of my sin. Jesus had suffered my punishment that I had been doomed to face, and rose from the dead proving that His promise of a new beginning is for real!
What did I do when I understood that God was offering me forgiveness, and a new life made possible by Jesus’ death and resurrection? Exactly the same thing the Bible tells everyone who really wants to be forgiven. I was devastated over my sin and asked God to forgive me, fully confident He would because of what Christ had done. This is what the Bible calls being born again.
After asking for forgiveness, my guilt, and misery from my sin disappeared. After asking for forgiveness, my guilt, and misery from my sin disappeared. Because of what the Bible said, I knew I had been forgiven. My life started to change as well. There was a new desire to read the Bible. Though at first I didn’t do it every day, the desire grew till I was reading it twice a day.
My attitude towards my brothers and sisters began to change, I realized how selfish it was to fight to get what I wanted. No longer did I steal, and now instead of getting angry at my parents, I wanted to do what was right. Now I live in gratitude for Jesus’ death for me!
Though I’m not perfect, God shows me what needs to change, and gives me what I need to be more like Christ. My prayer is that you would see your need for this change in your life too!