Oct 1998 I meet a girl in a bar. She started me on a journey towards the greatest discovery of my life. In Jan 1999 after attending church for a couple of months, I embarked on a 10 week course called Alpha; food, a talk and discussion time made up the evening - very pleasant. Over the first two weeks I was to have my opinions of Christianity totally transformed. Jesus was not someone who should only be wheeled out at Christmas and Easter, not just a story, but real and alive.
This discovery radically changed my life. It wasn't something that I thought would be good to try for a bit as a self help system or something. I realised that if Jesus' tomb was empty (and no one had a credible reason as to why it wasn't) and that Jesus really did rise from the dead (all other explanations did not seem to make sense humanly) then Jesus must be someone that I should follow whole heartedly.
That was coming up for 10 years ago (Feb 3rd). My life was one of binge drinking and pleasure seeking for my own fulfillment, looking for ways of being liked and accepted, desperately seeking the approval of those I considered friends.
When I accepted Jesus' invitation to follow him on Feb 3rd 1999, I found the approval and the acceptance that I had craved. I found it liberating to be able to say no to the next drink in the round, to say no to the next dare. I started to have friends who liked me for being me and not for the amount I could neck in one drinking session. I started to let people speak into my life without being all defensive, because I knew that they were speaking out of love rather than trying to bully me or tear me down. I found that I could make mistakes and they were forgiven. When I got ill people would come and pray and would help.
I found my own attitude towards people changing. From being someone who would do something if there was something in it for him, I started to look for opportunities to help others, because they needed help. Church was not a place I had to go to once a week to somehow remove any guilt from my life rather it was a family of people who came together to give thanks and praise to Jesus, the one who made us a family through his sacrifice of love and had already removed the guilt.
The discovery of Jesus that I made in 1999 totally changed my world view, my self perception and my perception of others. Christianity isn't something I do, a Christian is who I am, I belong to Jesus, I'm his follower and I do all I do because he first loved me.
This year I would love to see more and more people have this same experience as me. The details will be different, but the essence the same. Helping people to discover the real Jesus amongst all the nonsense should be something that we as Christians strive to do at all costs. You know you really love a friend when you are willing to share the gospel with them because it is the only thing that will make sense of their lives.
I need to constantly challenge myself, in this my ten year anniversary of being a Christian, to introduce others to Jesus as Jesus was introduced to me.