A month ago I became a new Christian by accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior. It has been a good month, one filled with lots of studying, happy hugs, church visits, and changes in my daily life as a result of that decision. There have been a few emblematic lessons I have learned during this month about being a Christian that I would like to take a moment and talk about.
It Brings Happiness
In all honesty, I expected that the overall reception to my conversion to Christianity would be one of confusion and/or shock at best. After being a practicing (modern) Orthodox Jew for almost 15 years, I figured this change would elicit a lot of raised eyebrows and stunned silences. But it hasn’t been the case. What I have gotten from everyone that has learned the good news (see what I did there?) has been happiness and joy, starting with my fiance and her mom, my entire family, my friends, and friends of friends. Yes, there’s been a couple surprised Wows here and there, but in general it’s been a happy reception. It has been nice to be the recipient of all that happy energy, I won’t lie; it has made the transition an easier one.
It Comes With Assumptions
Early on I realized that being a Christian came with a lot of assumptions, some from others towards me, some from me towards others. It has been assumed that my becoming a Christian means that I also automatically became a conservative/Republican, or at the very least that it would be an expected change. It has been assumed that in becoming a nondenominational Evangelical Christian (as opposed to going back to the Catholicism of my youth) I now am part of the White Evangelical demographic that helped elect Trump as President. I in turn have assumed that people who I thought of as Christian before being one myself would connect with me more after my conversion only to find the opposite. I have assumed that any Christian author is OK to read as I seek to learn as much as I can, but found that I was wrong, and some authors elicit strong reactions. Even from before, I had assumed that all Christians are perfect and should know better, behave better, only to realize that all Christians (myself included) are imperfect, make mistakes, and are human, thus why we need Jesus. I now work hard to divest myself of assumptions, and give the benefit of the doubt, or outright forgive, those assumptions made about me, and even if some days I fail, I continue to work on it.
It Doesn’t Mean the Same to Everyone
As a Jew, it was always interesting to see all the divisions with Christianity. From the Jewish side we all thought, “You all worship Jesus! What’s the big deal?” As a Christian I have come to learn that while we all may fall under the umbrella of Christianity, there are a lot of variations in how that manifests. As I mentioned, I currently attend a nondenominational church, but I’ve been to a handful of these and even there I have noticed some differences among the staff, the pastor, the sermons. I have also read a couple of authors who are Evangelicals as well, only to find that them being Calvinists was a big issue! Then there’s all the Protestant denominations, and there’s Catholics, and etc. We all follow Jesus, we are all Christian, but it certainly isn’t a word understood to mean the same by everyone. It presents an opportunity to learn from a variety of traditions and theologies in order to gain a wider view of the magnitude of God, but it can also be a minefield. I endeavor to keep my focus on Jesus and his message first and foremost, using that as my True North as I navigate the waters of my new life.
It Changes Your Whole Life
A connection with God takes over your entire life. I was familiar with this concept from my Jewish days, and it has been the same with Christianity. Following Jesus means adapting every part of your life to be like him, emulate his example, live by his lessons. It affects how I behave when alone or with people, at home or at work, with family or strangers. It affects how I think, what I think about, what my interests are. It makes some things important and others trivial. It draws some people near, and others it pushes away. Sometimes it is easy, sometimes it is so hard. It is transformative. And God, nor I, would have it any other way.
It Was The Right Decision
It is good to reflect on where one has been before continuing to where one is going. As I mark the one monthaversary, I assert that surrendering to God’s will, and accepting Jesus into my life, was the right decision to make. I have not had any second-guessing, any moments of doubt, any moments of panic over what I have done. I feel at peace with myself and God. I feel His presence, His warmth, in my life. I feel connected when I go to church, overjoyed by the worship. This was the right decision, and I look forward to where I go from here, with Jesus’ help.