When I was young, I attended a Presbyterian church with my family. Unfortunately, it became part of a routine and I was just going through the motions. There was no real emotional or life investment. We basically attended because we wanted to preserve a certain presentation of ourselves and maintain our status in the community.
Everything was great for our family until my brother started to hang out with the wrong crowd and started using drugs. Because of his drug addiction, other issues began to arise and he found himself in and out of jail several times. This not only caused problems within our family, but became a public issue and affected the way we were viewed in our church community. They slowly stopped reaching out to us and seemed to treat us as outcasts because of the sins of one of my brothers. Because of this, we quit attending that church. In fact, it left such a bitter taste in our mouths that we stopped going to church entirely. Although we were not attending any churches, I was a decent teenager and lived a good life. Despite no longer being involved in the church, I considered myself a pretty moral teenager. I didn’t drink, do drugs, or party like many of my friends in high school—but I realized I still had my fair share of sins, and lacked a relationship with God.
In my junior year of high school my whole life changed. It was at that time that I met my future wife for the first time, and when I truly met God. Everything seemed to click between the two of us, truly a great match, but there was one issue. She wasn’t interested in dating someone who did not attend church or have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. At first, I was still hurt by how God’s people treated my family, but I decided I would give church another go for her. I still remember the first Sunday I went to church with Hannah. Almost everyone in the church came up to me and introduced themselves. There was a lot of joking around that they would come after me if I ever hurt Hannah, but then we would have real conversations where they truly cared to get to know me and hear my story. These people, who I hardly knew, would even ask how they could pray for me. The verse that comes to my mind is…
1 John 4:7-12. “7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
Because of their choice to allow God to live in them, I could see and feel the love they had to offer. For the first time, I wanted that. Had it not been for them showing me the love of Christ, I would not have the relationship I have with Christ now. I can honestly say I know my life would be completely different. If it weren’t for God’s love through his people, I would not be getting married this year. I wouldn’t have this incredible job at CITYREACH NETWORK and I wouldn’t have had the chance to make some amazing relationships with my brothers and sisters in Christ. Praise God!