A Testimony

"A friend once told me that the one thing we all share, the common description of humanity, is that we are all "seekers". We are all after something. We each have some reason to get up out of bed every morning.

"Often, though, we are hard-pressed to define exactly what it is that we are looking for. One may call it enlightenment, fulfillment, or success, but even the most ambitious will admit that there is more to life than the material and physical.

"Christianity is based on the idea that what we all are searching for is God. We need an explanation for our existence, an unchanging standard of good and evil, and a compelling, unarguable reason to live. Christianity offers all this and more.

"But being a Christian isn't about subscribing to a certain belief system. It can be better described as putting your trust in a person, the person of Jesus Christ."

- Cheryl Seymour, Class of '97

Who is Jesus Christ?

He is fully man. When He was here on Earth, Jesus ate and slept and laughed and cried just like all of us. He was the ultimate example of a man who lived with a sense of purpose. He did only what He knew to be right, and though he was tempted as often as each of us are, He lived totally free from sin. He constantly downplayed himself and was full of wisdom and compassion. At the end of His life on Earth, He suffered a brutal and undeserved death, without protest.

He is fully God. Jesus said himself, "I and the Father are one." (John 10:30). He is the Creator and Lord of the Universe, and He embodies both truth and holiness. Yet because He created each of us, we matter to him and He loves each of us as His children. Jesus is often compared to our earthly father, because like our parents, He loves us no matter what. We can trust Him with all our troubles, with all our joys, and with our lives. In other words, Jesus is what we are all seeking!!

Why do we need Jesus?

No one is perfect. Everyone on earth has made mistakes and has both accidently and purposefully hurt themselves and those around them. Our imperfection is not a result of our upbringing or of society; it is inherent in each of us. We couldn't be perfect if we tried.

Jesus recognized this, too. He said, "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man 'unclean'; ..." (Matthew 15:19-20). Notice that all of these sins originate in our hearts. We are not sinners because we each had a chance to be perfect and failed. Instead, our sins are the results of our inherently sinful hearts. There is nothing we can to do make ourselves "clean".

Each of us can list many things that we would consider "sins", but the one thing that they all involve is separation from God. That's what sin really is - an action or thought that goes against what you know to be right and just. The most perfect embodiment of all that is right and just is God.

This brings us to the dilemma that causes us to be constantly seeking: What we all want most from life is to be happy, to somehow attain a sense of peace, joy, and contentment. However, each of our hearts is inherently full of sin, and this sin keeps us separated from God, who is all that we are seeking. There is no way that we can reach what we are looking for by ourselves.

How can Jesus help us?

Jesus was crucified. Three days later he was resurrected, in both body and spirit, fulfilling the prophesies of the Old Testament and proving He was the Son of God.

But, how does His death help us?

Jesus himself explained the reason for His crucifixion: "... the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:28). A ransom is a price paid to obtain the release of prisoners. We are all in a sense prisoners to the sin in our lives; we can't escape it. God's punishment for sin is death. Jesus, however, was perfect and did not need to be punished with death. However, He paid the price of death anyway so that each of us could be freed from our "prison" of sin.

How does His resurrection help us?

Jesus was resurrected in both body and spirit, and He appeared to His disciples on several different occasions. This proof that He was truly God transformed their faith, and it gave this small group of men the incredible sense of purpose and strength that initiated the founding of the Christian church! The power of Jesus' resurrection has great meaning for our lives as well. Jesus Christ is alive today to transform and rebuild the lives of everyone who believes.

Through His death on the cross and His resurrection, Jesus has "bridged the gap" and ended our separation from God, which was due to our sin. He has given us the chance to find all that we are seeking, offering us true peace and joy as a gift for the taking.

How can I get this gift?

So far, we've discussed several truths about our lives and about Jesus Christ. As I said in the beginning, becoming a Christian is much more than believing a set of facts. It involves not only an intellectual response to these truths but also an emotional response to the sin in each of our lives. The most important aspect of becoming a Christian, however, involves your will - the sacrifice of your own desires and the redirection of your priorities and motivations as a result of both your intellectual and emotional experiences.

People often describe becoming a Christian as "being born again" or "finding the Lord". It is a very difficult experience to describe, and often a good analogy will make the idea clearer. Consider a stereotypical bachelor. He has lived alone for some time and begins to feel an urge to find a wife. A married friend encourages him in this and tells him about how much he has enjoyed married life. This friend even goes so far as to introduce the bachelor to a woman who is also interested in marriage. He tells the bachelor all about her - where she grew up, what she did in college, what her career goals were, and how much they had in common. On their first date, the bachelor is immediately attracted to the woman and is eager to learn more about her. Eventually he decides to propose. The woman smiles and says, "I thought you'd never ask!"

Establishing a relationship with Chirst can be readily compared to marriage. A friend is often the best way to learn more about Christ and to introduce you to Him. After a certain point, though, all that your friend can do is encourage you - maybe even be your best man - but he can't make you propose, and he can't say "I do" for you! Similarly, when you feel ready to make a commitment to Jesus, you need to invite Him into your life. No one else can do that for you. All you need to do is ask, because like the bachelor's wife, He has been waiting for that invitation all along.

In Revelation 3:20, Jesus compares our life to a house, saying, "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." At some point in our lives, we all hear Jesus knocking. However, not only must we open the door, we must also invite Him in. This invitation can be given Him simply in our own words through prayer.

Where To Go From Here

Becoming a Christian will be the most amazing change in your life. But, it is only the beginning! Just like marriage, a relationship with Jesus Christ requires a lifelong commitment and often involves sacrificing your own wishes and independence. But, you don't have to do it alone! First, you have Jesus himself, who will answer your prayers and teach you more about Himself through the Bible. Remember, He is your Father, and He loves you dearly! Also, please seek out Christian fellowship! You would be amazed at how many active Christians there are on Duke's campus. There are several groups of different sizes and types - no doubt you will be comfortable in at least one of them.

If you are interested in learning more about Christianity, two excellent books to read are:

  • Basic Christianity by John R. Stott
  • Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

If you have any other questions about Christianity or comments about this page, please contact us.