Throughout the history of the modern era, this question has spawned curiosity, investigation, and has even at times been obscured by the witness of those who profess his name. You may love him, hate him, or be indifferent to him – even if you are a self-professed “Christian”. Ask your history department at university “Who has been the most influential figure in the history of the world?,” you are probably going to hear the answer: “Jesus Christ.”
Well, that doesn’t prove he is who he said he is does it? No. But it does form the best starting point for investigating who he is and what’s so special about him. In a previous post entitled “Why Jesus?“, I looked at the uniqueness of Jesus’ claim to truth. In this post I will share how I met him and came to see the difference he makes to all of life.
Here are three significant crossroads along the way in my journey of knowing Jesus personally.
“There’s something different about these people.” That’s what I thought upon seeing the lives of humility, love, and acceptance of my high school friends at a church. My family and I had moved to central Alberta in grade 11 and 12 and everything was new. Two friends on my basketball team, Nick and Devin, invited me to spend time with their friends from a church. Instantly I felt accepted and these people, while imperfect and having their own inadequacies like me, shone with a love for me and an authenticity in their lives that I found very attractive. I was shocked at times thinking how different they all were in personalities and backgrounds, but that they were brought together by a common identity in Jesus.
My suggestion for you to know Jesus better is to get to know someone who actually trusts in him and shows it.
“I want to follow him.” This is what I concluded after being challenged by a youth pastor in grade 12 to consider making a public witness before my friends and family that I identify with and follow Jesus as Saviour and Lord of my life. Through my friends’ witness of his amazing power, my discovery of his historical uniqueness, and in being personally convicted by Jesus to entrust my life to him, I did!
When in college, I found my identity in him challenged by basketball. At the beginning of the second year of basketball in college, I was bumped off the starting line up. I had trained as hard as I could during the summer. This was the year to prove myself! I had been bumped off by a freshman who I believed was not better than me. The reality hit hard. I became bitter, angry, and resentful.
What Jesus revealed to me at this time was that I was misplacing my true identity in him onto something so comparatively small and insignificant. My identity with him was secure and lasting but basketball was insecure and temporary. I realized my misplaced identity in basketball and changed. He was using this identity struggle in my life to shape me and over time, to help me to see the greatness of who he is compared to any other identity in life. His unfailing love and lasting security for me led me back to him.
Often times the word “faith” is taken to mean blind trust. I didn’t want this and in university, I discovered Jesus didn’t want me to have this either! Upon entering the University of Waterloo to take Philosophy and Political Science, I was instantly surrounded by many diverse beliefs and values. I wanted to become further convinced that Jesus is who he said he is: “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6).
As I searched, I found more and more that professors could not give satisfying answers to the greatest questions about life. “Is our life really reducible to a test tube?” “Is human dignity really a projected idea rather than a reflection of us being created by God?” “If Jesus was really just a moral teacher, why did he claim to be God? If Jesus did not rise from the dead, why would eyewitnesses who followed him choose to die for their belief that he did rise from the dead? ”
In putting my deepest faith convictions to the test, I found that there was really no better explanation to the uniqueness of Jesus, his historical impact, and the most profound questions of our existence than that Jesus simply is who he said he is: God made known to us in human form. My identity in Jesus was strengthened not apart from solid evidence but through it! I was convinced then and am now just as much that Jesus is the greatest person who has ever lived because He is God.
Have you personally discovered the difference Jesus makes? What holds you back from trusting in him to experience the life that he has come to give you?