By James Ahn
As a little boy, I believed in God. I wasn’t sure exactly who God was, but I would pray to God if I needed something. And amazingly most of my prayers that I recall were answered, such as passing my Tae Kwon Do Belt Exams, passing school tests, getting a Nintendo game system, and having the Philadelphia Flyers get Eric Lindros. Unfortunately, he didn’t lead the Flyers to a championship. But in my mind, God answering these prayers was a confirmation that God existed.
When I went to college, I wanted to have fun, meet new people and have new experiences, but God had other plans for me. During orientation week at college, I went to an Asian group meeting which ended up being a campus Bible study. It was through this Bible study group that I learned about God and experienced Christian fellowship. I made a profession of faith after my sophomore year of college, and soon after, God opened my eyes to His Word. The following fall semester, I became a Sunday school teacher at church and one of the leaders for our campus Bible study. Before this, I had no basic knowledge of the Christian faith. Actually, the first time I heard about Apostle Paul was in my sophomore year in college when I took a History class and the professor mentioned the influence Paul of Tarsus had on Christianity. I had no idea who Paul was!
While I was hungry for God’s word, and was fed at church and through my campus Bible study, I started to feel a huge weight of burden on my shoulders because I could not live up to being the “perfect” Christian I thought God wanted me to be. I would go into a cyclical pattern of sinning, repenting, then shame. This shame would be overwhelming to the point I would purposely miss church or Bible studies because I couldn’t face God or my friends because of my guilt and shame.
After graduating college, a new pastor came to our church and preached something I had never heard…the gospel. The gospel message was this: “We are more sinful than we can imagine but more loved than we could ever have hoped for.” This was mind-blowing to me. I had a false understanding of God’s love. Instead of the gospel truth that God’s love for us is solely dependent on Christ’s righteousness, I focused on repenting of my sins and trying to gain God’s approval and love with my own righteousness. 2 Corinthians 5:21 states: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” I remember a friend of mine who had given his testimony at church, and the last thing he said was, “I am not perfect, but I’m a work in progress.” And that’s exactly how I feel about my walk with the Lord…I’m a work in progress and that’s okay because I know now that God loves me despite my many faults because it is in Christ’s righteousness alone that I am justified, forgiven and loved.