I grew up in a small town, in the middle of nowhere, Southland. Church was always a huge part of growing up but when we moved to Christchurch, things changed. We found a great church, but there wasn’t that family sense I’d grown up with. Slowly, I fell away from church, and what I believed became a lonely and cold journey. I tried to be the kind of man Jesus was in the Bible. By this point however, my faith didn’t feel warm and welcoming to me. It was an impersonal list of do’s and don’ts.

Throughout high-school it ate at me. I was a great student, a rugby player and a decent bloke, although admittedly a bit loud and obnoxious. Beyond the obvious, I knew that there were areas in my life that were wrong: I struggled with arrogance, anger, selfishness and objectifying people. I gauged my relationship with God on how well I did in these areas. Since I never did well there, I felt alone. A failure.

After years of high-school, in my first year of university, I feel like I finally learned something worthwhile. I’d grown up knowing who Jesus was. I had accepted Him as my saviour; that His perfect life was given in payment for my disobedience. Beyond that, I thought that I needed to be as close to perfect as possible, and I fell woefully short. I knew God loved me, but like my parents, I could well imagine there were a lot of moments where He didn’t like me much. How wrong I was. Through Jesus’ death on the cross, I was pure in God’s eyes. He had paid for all my mistakes, for all time. It had been true since I’d decided to trust Jesus, but now I knew it.

Learning that was so liberating. At the same time, in order for it to mean anything in my life, it had to mean everything. So I decided that Jesus wasn’t just my saviour, He was also my lord. My faith changed. I used to avoid prayer because of the mistakes I had made in the day. Now, I talk to Him, knowing that He accepts me wholeheartedly. I still try to be a better man, but it’s out of gratitude, not to feel worthy. I still fail, but that doesn’t define my relationship with Him. Jesus’ completed sacrifice does. When hard times come, I never fear that God won’t be beside me. He has spoken directly into my life through the Bible, and the people around me. I went from a religion to a relationship, from law to love, from ‘do’ to ‘done’. And I’ll never go back

My name is John Davies, and seeing is believing.