I believed that I was a believer when I was an unbeliever. What I thought I knew about God and about Christ (doctrines that I had been taught as a passive listener); I didn’t really know.
So how do you ever discover that you don’t believe, when you think that you do? And how do you ever realize that you don’t know, when authority figures have taught you that you do know?
For me it was the voice of God that convinced me that I was not a Christian. It happened this way. One Sunday, when I was about 16 or 17, I was sitting in church trying to pay attention to a boring sermon when a thought entered my mind: “If you were born a Hindu, what would you be today?”
The question made me curious. I thought carefully: “What would I be if I had grown up in a Hindu family, regularly taken by Hindu parents to a Hindu temple and taught by a Hindu priest that Hinduism was the truth and that the Gita was God’s holy book?” And I realized that, under those conditions, I would have been a Hindu.”
Suddenly, another question came to my mind: “Then why do you think you are a Christian?” That’s when the truth hit me like a ton of bowling balls: My only reason for being a Christian was because of my upbringing — had I been born to and/or raised by parents of another religion (or in a nation that enforced another religion) I would have been that religion even though upbringing and/or geography do not make a religion true.
That’s when I knew that I didn’t know what I thought I knew. The rest of that day I went through my religious beliefs one by one to see if I had a legitimate reason to believe any of them. Based on that day’s thinking and analysis, I rejected Jesus, the Bible, and Christianity.
However, when I got to examining the idea of existence, I couldn’t conceive how it would be possible for something as complex and interrelated as earth’s ecosystem to have come into existence all by itself. Therefore, although I rejected the religious view of a God, I couldn’t reject the idea that there was some sort of supernatural force or intelligence behind the Universe. (I was now an agnostic.)
I ended my day by addressing that whatever that put together all the glorious beauty that we see in nature: “Whatever or whoever you are, please show me the truth.”
Two or three years later, I walked into an energetic and informal gathering of people at The University of Tennessee Martin and encountered the living, resurrected Jesus Christ. From that moment until this one (almost 42 years later) Jesus has been more real to me than the air I breathe. I believe in Christ, not because of my upbringing, but because of His real Presence and daily activity in my life.
Four years ago, my wife and I were invited by The Salvation Army in Nashville to start a non-traditional church. We wanted a place where people could come in and encounter the living Presence of Jesus Christ, so we set it up on the model of a support group where people show and tell what God has done.
Come and encounter Jesus with us: Sundays @ 10:45 am. & Thursdays @ 6:30 pm. — 225 Berry Street, Nashville, 37207.