I am a Christian. This means I believe there is a God who made us, loves us unconditionally, and sent His Son Jesus Christ to earth to show us how to live our lives, and to die for our sins. God did all of this because He loves us and wants to have a relationship with us.
My favorite verse in the Bible is Romans 5:8 because it shows how God's love for us is unconditional, and it is proven through Jesus Christ: "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." I'd like to briefly share a little about how my Christian faith has impacted my outlook on life. This is a discussion of my personal religious beliefs which are not derived from my scientific agreement with the theory of intelligent design.
In trying to understand what is most important, I have found that it really comes down to knowing God, and growing in that relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. What does that mean? Knowing God means coming into a right relationship with God. The problem is that we humans are all sinful (me especially!). Since God is perfect and holy, our own imperfection and sin prevent us from having a right relationship with Him.
But what is sin? The Hebrew definition simply meant "missing the mark." But at its essence, sin is our own selfish tendency to follow our own ways rather than God's perfect, loving ways--for "God is love" (I John 4:8). Whether you are religious or not, you're a worshipper. Another way of looking at sin is this: sin means worshipping something other than God. Often, the thing we worship is ourselves. We want to be God instead of letting God be God.
But we aren't God. God is a perfect and holy being who is infinitely loving and infinitely good -- we are anything but that. Thus, sin against a perfect holy God is a big deal, and sin requires death (Hebrews 9:22). That's why the ancient Jewish law required animal sacrifices to "pay" for sin. God loves humans and made us to be in a personal relationship with Him. But our sins stand in the way, as a barrier blocking that relationships. Because God loves us, He came to earth as Jesus Christ--a perfect sinless man--to be a one-time sacrifice for our sins. In other words, Jesus took the punishment that we deserved, so we could be forgiven for our sins. By believing in Jesus Christ, you can receive forgiveness for your sins, and have that barrier to knowing God broken down.
A personal relationship with God is something real. JudeoChristian religions teach that we are made in the "image of God." That basically means that, excluding qualities like omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence, we have an emotional and spiritual make-up that has some similarities to God. (He's also morally perfect and holy and we are not.) Some of the same things that hurt Him also hurt us, and we are made so we are fulfilled when we know Him.
Some people like to think that humans created our own concept of God to satisfy our own emotional needs. But I think that an equally parsimonious explanation is that God created us in His image with emotional needs which only He can fulfill. The French mathematician Blaise Pascal observed that "there is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person..." Why is there such a hole? If God is a relational being, then this makes perfect sense. Since God is a relational being who created us to know Him, we can get to know him like we can get to know another person. Like any relationship, the best way to get to know God is to spend time with Him.
At various points in my life, God has used difficult circumstances to help me better understand what really matters. I am thankful that God values growing character in our lives much more than He values our convenience. Jesus didn't teach that life would always be easy. In Jesus promised that if you follow Him, you would have trouble in this life. But He identifies with our pain and is always present in it with us. People may attack you because of your beliefs. But God is there to guide us and grow us through it. Life is full of good times and bad times. I feel blessed to have had many wonderful experiences in my life. Regardless of how your life has been or will be, without God it ultimately ends without any net gain. With God, you gain Him, and you'll also learn that a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ is all we really need.
Thanks for reading.