Then and now - growth in Christ

Hello brothers and sisters in Christ!

I have found growth in Christ to be a sometimes perplexing, sometimes painful, sometimes confusing thing, and I’m more or less just starting… I have found it to be deep and joyful, startling and hopeful, both simple and overwhelmingly profound, to the point where I am conscious that I’m barely grasping the REAL significance of the Way, theTruth, and the life that is Jesus.

So here is my question, which has two parts:

What did you think you were getting when you came to Jesus? …or… what was Jesus to you at first?

AND

What have you actually found you’ve received? …or… what has He become to you now?

I know you could quote scripture, but I guess I was looking for more deeply personal, raw answers, if anyone had the inclination to be so candid.

This question occurred to me today, and I don’t know if I’ve actually considered it deeply enough or long enough… I don’t know yet how I would answer it in a way that would begin to do it justice (if that’s possible).

Thanks in advance for sharing, I look forward to your answers.
I’m at work right now and even though I’d like to call myself a manly dude, my heart is overwhelmed in worship and I’m crying. Haha. So much for tough-guy nonsense.

JESUS IS ALIVE!! :grinning:

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Wow! a question about unvarnished truth with a raw realism with personal fears laid bare. It is a blessing to share this.

One simple answer I HAD NO CLUE BECAUSE I WAS IGNORANT.
Raised Catholic not knowing the bible just doing what I was taught.
Meeting a Jesus I did not know was frightening
.
A challenging, skeptical question, If what I see and hear is true show me, which i asked when by myself and had an encounter i could not explain at the time but much later realized was a Damascus road experience were I could now see the truth.

Just being raw and genuine, I had no clue so I said nothing to anyone, not my wife, family, no one. I did not see any visible changes but according to others they saw a change. My language changed and you know what i mean by that.
I snuck around and read my wife’s bible knowing something but searching for answers which I had not done.
For two weeks I did not grasp that I had believed but didnt know what I believed.
A woman from church wanted answers because my wife talked about me.
She was at the house and asked me flat out if I was saved and I just blurted out yes ma’am I am.
Not till two months after that did I sort of understand.
I ended up in the hospital for seven days with a three pack a day habit and not allowed to get out of the bed.
Eight days later and the new testament devoured and no more habit I began to understand what really happened.
A hard heart doesn’t think it listening but His word is powerful and lives are convicting.

Something I never had, the ability to love myself and a love for others that amazes me still today after 29 years. My best friend beyond my wife, children, grand children or anyone else.
Ones life will never fully understand the riches of all He is or can be to us.

Hope you stay safe in His care out there.
Mike

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Hey @countryinked, Jesus wept. :wink:

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What an interesting question Jeremy, and I can imagine the variety of answers will be very much worth reading!

I became a Christian when I was 12 and our denomination was very legalistic. We loved studying the Old Testament because we could relate to the law. Because of our legalism many of us responded well to the fire and brimstone sort of message, and while I had always loved God, as a person who just loves easily, he didn’t seem very close to me. I decided to become a Christian because one day I realized that if I don’t I would go to hell if I were to die tomorrow. Fear of hell, wanting to go to heaven, and duty, we’re my motivators. Once I became a Christian I was ready to follow Jesus’ “new law” (which is what we called what Jesus and his disciples preached) to the best of my ability. I was very devoted to the truth as I saw it. To me, Jesus was the only way to salvation, even though we had a works mindset in order to remain in favor with our Lord. We didn’t understand being saved by grace through faith.

This is such a great follow up to the first question, because don’t we all grow in our understanding of who Christ is over time? 31 years after I was baptized, Jesus means so much more to me now. I realize that I have received an incredible gift that allows me to not only be free from the punishment of my sins, but to be free from sin itself and the guilt that comes along with it. And to boot, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that gives us strength beyond anything we could ever achieve on our own, and a peace and love that can overflow from our hearts to those around us. The Spirit also gives us the ability to mourn with those who mourn, and help to carry one another’s burdens because of the strength and understanding we gain while being sanctified. I never understood any of this when I was a girl because our church didn’t believe that the Holy Spirit helps us still, but that He was only meant for first century Christians. Much is lost when you quench the Spirit and live legalistically. The work of the Spirit in our lives is such a miracle and I am immensely thankful for it. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

Thank you for your good questions. I look forward to reading more responses. :blush:

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Hi @countryinked, as Carrie said, this is a very interesting question. I agree, the more I learn about God and the more I know Him, the more I realise I don’t yet know and could never understand! As my knowledge and relationship grows with God, He seems to grow. In that, at least, I get a glimpse of what his infinite nature might mean.

So back ‘then’ for many years, my perception of God and Jesus’ sacrifice has equated to a free ticket to heaven. I gave my life to God very young, and although I had some good teaching, the head knowledge never made its way to my heart. I had a strong theology that I couldn’t lose my salvation and that was good enough for me! It didn’t impact my present life on Earth one bit really! It basically meant I did exactly the opposite to what Paul said in Romans 6:15: What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!.

What does it mean to me now? I’d say there are 3 areas that I never grasped until adult life:

  1. I never really understood what Gods love actually meant for me until the last decade. Once I realised he actually does love me (and not ‘well, you have to say you love me because you made me’) it’s transformed how I can trust God in my day to day life as well as for my future.
  2. For years,I felt just as Paul had written in 1 Timothy 1:15 Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.
    I felt like this because I did things that I should have known better than to do, being already saved and baptised! So a big part of what I’ve found in Christ and received from him is a total forgiveness.
  3. I know my identity is in Christ. God pulled away all my supports and structures that I’d used to build my identity and he rebuilt me with an identity based on Christ. I had relied on all the finite and false things of this world to validate who I was and I found these were insufficient. Finally, my life is built on solid foundations.

Like I said, most of my life I’ve been a Christian (and I mean I genuinely knew Jesus and what he’d done for me - I had encountered him on many occasions), so I haven’t got a testimony like many of how I came to believe in God and have my life transformed. The difference for me is that I finally came to know him deeply unlike before: I finally had a love for him that I’d never held before. The head knowledge finally became heart knowledge as walls were broken down in my life. I think this is as you’ve written:

grasping the REAL significance of the Way, theTruth, and the life that is Jesus.

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