Continued from Part 1
I went to Uni; my first time away from home and family – from a tiny village to a large city. The first friends I made ‘just happened’ to be Christians. They were the first people I had met who spoke of Jesus being alive, and of their having a personal relationship with him. This was quite a novelty for me.
I had joined several societies to get to know people. My Christian friends invited me to Christian Union meetings. There was a noticeable difference between the groups. There was a special bond between the Christians, and although I knew I wasn’t ‘one of them’ I didn’t feel excluded.
They encouraged me to read the Bible for myself – and were always willing to answer my questions. (Although one admitted to me later that she always almost dreaded speaking to me as I asked such tough questions.)
I was encouraged to read other books such at Frank Morison’s ‘Who Moved the Stone?’ – a classic written by a lawyer who’d originally intended to write something quite different. His research led him to the conclusion that the resurrection had actually happened: Jesus Christ had physically risen from the dead.
For me, the evidence seemed pretty overwhelming. I remembered our Religious Knowledge teacher giving us a list of evidence for the resurrection. One thing I found difficult to argue against was the change in the disciples. They had thought that Jesus was the Messiah, the prophesied saviour who was to save his people. They had thought he would overthrow the Romans. After Jesus had been crucified, they were frightened for their lives. They were terrified, hiding behind closed doors.
Later, they were prepared to die rather than deny that he had risen: that he was the Son of God, God the Son even.
And it continues to this day. Despite its ups and downs, the church has survived for nearly two thousand years: Jesus has his followers across all six continents. In some countries, those followers are still being put to death rather than deny their faith in Jesus….
REAL. That’s what the poster said; followed by a dictionary definition of real. I saw it in a corridor of the P&B (physiology and biochemistry) building. I thought it had been put up by one of our professors who was known for his quirky humour. Maybe he was reminding us to be precise in our use of words in our essays.
The following week, the same poster with My God is REAL overprinted diagonally across it. A week later, dates, times and venues had been added. The Christian Union were advertising their mission week.
I went along to the meetings. Halfway through the week, I had the strong conviction that it was not enough to believe that the resurrection had happened. I had to do something. I decided to ‘nail my colours to the mast’ and become a follower of Jesus.
I can’t remember what it was that David Watson had said that had made such a strong impression. (David Watson was the speaker: a Church of England vicar fromYork and well known in church circles at the time – the late 60s.) Likewise, I don’t remember what I prayed. I do remember that I thought God was getting quite a good catch – me with my great intellect, I was agreeing to follow him! Not much humility or confession of sin about it!
Things went quite well for about six months: I went to church, CU meetings, prayed and read my Bible, went to Bible study meetings – on the surface, a model Christian.
And then the wheels started to come off…