Simply calling ourselves Christians will not result in redeemed lives. Neither will religious rituals free us from the shackles of sin. True freedom is found in Christ alone, for He is the way, the Truth, and the life. Dave's story of redemption illustrates the wonder of God's love—that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
"I realized that the way I'd been living had not granted me [real] freedom."
"I grew up in a devout Christian family where Jesus was at the center of nearly everything we did. My dad was a pastor, and I enjoyed going to church. But in my early teenage years, I felt the first pulls of sin really begin to wage a war with my soul. This is when I developed two characters—one in which I pretended to be interested in Jesus and another in which I was a prodigious liar. I loved the idea of God, but I'd never had a relationship with Him. It took me a long time to admit it because I thought the Gospel was true. I just didn't care about it enough to ever want to fight the side of me that fought against [God's Truth].
"By my mid-20s, I was a young man with no restraint. I had the ability to do whatever I wanted, which is what I thought of as freedom. But I woke up one morning, and for the first time in over a decade, I paused and reflected. I had left a litany of broken relationships and hurt people [in my wake]. I realized that the way I'd been living had not granted me [real] freedom. The way I treated God was nothing short of outright rejection and rebellion.
"I decided to call my Christian friend, and I told him, 'Tim, I need to talk to you about God. I'm not the person that I've pretended that I am to you.' He laughed and said, 'Of course you're not. Everyone knows who you really are. You're a liar, a fake, a fraud. The only person who doesn't know it is you.' If he'd said that a day earlier, I would have hung up. But I asked him what I needed to do to get right with God.
"Tim took me to Romans 5:6-8 and said, 'Dave, your sin has not disqualified you from God's love, grace, and family. It qualifies you for His grace. If you were good, Jesus wouldn't have had to die. He died because you're not good.' Then he told me to pray to God until I knew He had heard me. I'd prayed to God many times before, but Tim knew that my prayers hadn't been genuine. I didn't know how to truly pray, but that night I fell on my knees and cried out to God to forgive me. I fell asleep in my tears, but I woke up the next day a true Christian.
"Two weeks [later], I told my [parents] that I had become a Christian. They were overjoyed, but they were just very hopeful that God had indeed done a work in my heart and changed me.
"I started looking for books in my dad's study to help me in my Christian journey, and my dad pointed to his selection of books by Dr. Michael Youssef. So, I read these books not learning about Dr. Youssef, but learning about Jesus and learning about who God is and what He did for me. These books had a profound shaping effect on me and helped me connect the dots between these wonderful Truths that I had been taught my whole life but couldn't grasp [before]. The incredible thing about Dr. Youssef's books and teachings was that they always left me thinking about God. I love Dr. Youssef, and I'm so grateful to God for his ministry that has pointed me to Jesus."