Student Believes Jesus Without Rejecting Culture (Telugu)
During high school, the God described in Christianity did not make sense to me because I did not believe in miracles, I did not understand why God would allow evil in this world, I could not
comprehend why a loving God would send people to hell, I did not want to serve God or be manipulated by Him because I wanted to serve myself, and everyone I knew who did believe seemed to feel that way only because they grew up in a religious family. In other words, their
faith in God seemed like it was based on family tradition, not truth.
Yet four years later, after I had become a Christian, I came to
believe that living my life in accordance with what God wants for it is wiser and more important than how my parents, my peers, society, or I believe I should live my life because an all-knowing and all-powerful God knows what is better for me than any person can know.
It is clear that over the course of four years, I made a definite
shift in what I believed about God, religion, and especially Christianity. Today I want to share with you the events that changed my heart from being someone who questioned the existence of God to
someone who now seeks His will for my life. In addition, I want to discuss some of the obstacles I faced in becoming a Christian due to my ethnic heritage.
While I was in high school, my sister was in college and she became a Christian. When she did, I was curious about why she would claim to believe something that opposed the beliefs of our cultural heritage. Although my parents were raised as Hindus, they never formally introduced my sister and me to the beliefs of that religion. But because religion and culture are closely linked in Indian society, many Indians believe that the culture a person is born into determines the religious beliefs of that person. Also, the close connection
between religion and culture often causes Indians to believe certain things about the universe even when they personally may not identify with a particular religion.
As a result, I grew up believing many Hindu ideas even though I did not consider myself to be a Hindu. For example, I believed that if there was a God, that many paths would lead to Him or It. In other words, I thought that all religions were true, at least partially. Also, I thought that Christianity was a religion for people in the West, while religions like Hinduism, Sikhism, and Buddhism were for people in the East. Since I felt this way about religion, my sister's
decision to become a Christian made me curious and confused. But since my sister independently came to believe in Christ, and I had always admired my sister's judgment, I began to wonder if the claims that the Bible made about God were in fact true.
For the next two years, my sister and I would have conversations
about the existence of God, but nothing she said ever changed my mind. One day she gave me two books to read: Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis and More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell. I read both of them and discovered two interesting things about Christianity. The first thing I noticed was that Christian faith does not hinge only on philosophy, but the validity of historical events that could be proven as true or false: namely Jesus Christ's life, crucifixion, and resurrection. The second aspect I noticed about Christianity is while most religions claim that people must live a perfect life to be reunited with God after death, Christianity admits that humans are not perfect and that
some other route must be provided to be with God after death. The
combination of these two elements in Christianity made me realize that although religions may have some similarities, the striking differences between them demonstrate that they cannot all be true; either they are all incorrectly describing God or one of them is correct. Because
Christianity's basis and claims were so different from other religions I knew about, I wanted to learn more.
Early in my sophomore year in college, I used to talk a lot with a Christian friend of mine from high school. Since I knew he was Christian, I would ask him questions about what he believed and why. Because I had so many questions, he told me about something called an
investigative discussion group for non-Christians who were interested in finding answers to their questions about God and Christianity. I started going to one and got answers to questions like "How do you know God exists?", "Why is Christianity the only way to God?", and "If God loves us so much, why do people go to hell?". After a year of asking questions and challenging the leaders of the group about what they believed, the intellectual doubts I had about Christianity were erased.
Yet, somehow this was not enough for me. The Christians I talked to told me that God was relational and actively loved us. I could not believe in Christ unless I actually experienced Him in my life, so I prayed that God would reveal Himself to me. As months passed I began to notice little things such as the differences between people who lived a life with Christ and those who did not. Those who did seemed confident in decisions they made because they knew God helped them make their decisions. I also noticed the love that they demonstrated towards others, even non-Christians, out of love for God in their obedience to Him. Although I knew non-Christians who were "good people", they lacked the inner peace of knowing that something
more powerful than them was in control of their lives, for their benefit. Seeing the increasing differences between Christ-led and self-led lives over the next few months made me realize that
living a life with Christ is better than living one without Him.
But even after realizing this, I was afraid of how my parents and
friends would react if I became a Christian. I was particularly concerned about what my parents would think because I knew they did not approve of my sister's faith in Christ. My father felt that Christianity was too exclusive because it ruled out alternative views of God and the universe. He did not dispute the Christian claim that Jesus was God, but he said that religious figures like Krishna and Mohammed were also manifestations of God that were sent to meet the needs of the people at that time in that place. My mother, on the other hand, felt that rejecting Hinduism meant that we would be rejecting our culture. She was afraid that our family in India would view her as a bad mother because her children rejected the beliefs of Hinduism, while embracing the claims of Christianity. Also, she was afraid of the increasing likelihood that we would not marry Indians because there are few Indian Christians, and very few Hindus would consider marrying a Christian.
When my parents presented these objections to the idea of me
becoming a Christian, I seriously considered them. Yet, because I had experienced Jesus' love in my life and I knew that all religions cannot be true, I found that I could not agree with my father's objections. As for my mother's objections, I viewed religion and culture as two separable things, and I knew that I would be able to embrace my Indian culture even though I did not agree with my religious heritage. Also, I realized that because I believed in Christ, I was willing to risk displeasing my parents and relatives to have an eternal relationship with God. In other words, it is not worth rejecting an eternity with God for the approval of my parents, friends, or non-believing society.
It was only then that I felt I came to a point where I was confident enough with what I believed that I was ready to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. If you are earnestly seeking God, but you do not know Jesus, I encourage you to pray that God will reveal Himself to you. In Luke 11:9-10, Jesus tells his disciples, "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will
be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."
God was faithful in answering my prayers to know Him, and He will be faithful in answering yours.