My seven-year-old daughter asked me how she can know if she’s a Christian. Instead of giving her an immediate answer, I asked: “What do you think?” My daughter responded honestly, in the way children do: “I don't know.”
This conversation got me thinking: “How does our faith begin?” We each have stories of coming to faith in Jesus that are unique to us. But there are three key pieces the stories of Christ-followers seem to have in common: 1) understanding who God is, 2) understanding our need to have a relationship with Him, and 3) entering into that relationship through faith in Jesus Christ.
Knowing Who God Is
How do you have faith in someone you don’t know? One of the best ways we can begin to know God is by reading and studying His Word, the Bible. Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”
For newcomers to the faith, the Bible may seem hard to understand. For me, there were words, names, and phrases that weren’t immediately clear to my 21st-century brain. I’ve learned the usefulness of a good daily Bible study devotional, like Today in the Word; reputable reference books like the Layman’s Bible Commentary; and books that put the Bible in historical context (Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes).
Knowing Who We Are in Christ
The world tells us to base our identity in our work, our relationships, our social media personas, our possessions, our politics, our social status, etc. When we base our identity in created things, we are vulnerable to the anxiety tied to losing the things we think define us.
In Christ, you have value. God says we “are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession” (1 Peter 2:9). Through Christ we find forgiveness. He loves us even when we feel unlovable. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Those who are trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior are secure in their relationship with God. Romans 8:39 makes clear that there is nothing that can separate us from God’s love, “nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God.” When we see ourselves as those who belong to God’s beloved Son, Jesus Christ, that’s solid footing that can never be taken away.
Being In a Committed Relationship with Jesus
In a healthy relationship, both parties are interested in each other’s lives and have on-going interaction. The same is true with Jesus.
God desires to have a direct and personal relationship with you and me. We get to know Him better through prayer, studying His Word, and asking Him to reveal himself to us. Some of the darkest and most desperate times in our lives can also be times when we most vividly experienced God’s faithfulness. The more we get to know God, the more we see His faithfulness. His faithfulness teaches us to trust Him more and our faith grows.
I told my daughter that I had believed in Jesus for a long time, but it was only more recently that I really understood how much I needed Him. “God is good. He loves you more than you can imagine, and He always wants to spend time with you.”