Written by Josiah Piett
Many people claim to have their life transformed by Jesus Christ—myself included—but are there questions we should ask about that?
I am the type of person who is skeptical about anything that sounds too good to be true. I ask a lot of questions. You can ask my wife or my professors from when I was in university, and they will testify to this. The main question I find myself asking about life transformation is “How do we know that this truth Christians claim to set them free is not just positive mental attitude sprinkled with Jesus terms? Better yet, how do we know it isn’t just humanistic, philosophical concepts infused with Christian jargon?”
This article will focus on two ways of approaching, but not necessarily answering, these valid questions.
The first approach is the logical/reasoning approach. Using my story as an example, if you look at what changed my life, you see that it was Jesus entering into my story and redefining my identity and purpose because of what he did for me.
We must also ask if Jesus of Nazareth saw lives transformed through similar process—if Jesus did not see lives transformed by entering and redefining their stories, then followers of Jesus have a big problem. The Jesus of yesterday has to align with the Jesus of today. If this is not the case, then individuals like myself have had a psychological transformation rooted in concepts, as opposed to a person.
I believe a way to know if these two “Jesuses” are the same person is by understanding the historical context of Jesus’ life. If Jesus of Nazareth redefined the identity and purpose of the people He encountered, we can deduce that these claims of Christians today do align with what Jesus of Nazareth set out to accomplish originally. Therefore, the logical answer could be found in asking if these two impressions of Jesus align.
Another approach you can take to answer these questions is the “spiritual approach.” In my opinion, if what I believe and experience was rooted in concepts and not the person of Jesus of Nazareth, then there wouldn’t be much hope in what I believe. Psychological and philosophical concepts are only meaningful while you are living, but once you die, they mean nothing to you. They may help you live a more fulfilling life, but once your life is over, they are not much help to you.
When my hope is anchored in Jesus, it goes beyond me grounding myself in a concept and into me taking an eternal promise and truth that will be with me even beyond my earthly death. The identity and purpose I have in Jesus is eternal, not temporal; it may shift a bit in its outworking when I die, but it will remain with me as I live in heaven.
Many times people dismiss Jesus by saying, “Well, Josiah, that’s good for you that this helps with your struggles, but I just find my strength through other ways.” But no matter what your “other ways” are, they are still rooted in concepts or truth statements you are choosing to believe in. Whether influenced by science, another religion, your gut-feeling, kharma, or whatever else, such beliefs do come from somewhere.
Therefore, the question I have for you is, what is your source for the concepts you believe about yourself and the world we live in?
Everyone reading this article—follower of Jesus or not—is either surviving or thriving right now because of core concepts they believe about themselves and the world they live in. The challenge I have for you is simple: Ask yourself if what you believe is really going to matter after you die or not. If not, that saddens me, because I know that your life has been designed to be rooted in someone—as opposed to something—that is eternal not temporal.
In addition to the logical and spiritual approaches, let me add a personal one. I have found a difference between struggling with something and struggling through something. Struggling with something means that whatever that something is has more control over you than it needs to.
I have chronic kidney failure and a whole list of other urinary issues that, on paper, have no real, long-term solution. Therefore, from a medical standpoint, you could say I’ve been given a pretty hopeless situation. My mom recently did some research to see what the most advanced treatment is for babies that are detected to have a similar medical condition to me. In 2018, the recommended solution for children who have similar condition to me is for the mother to have an abortion.
I get what being hopeless can feel like; I lived most of my childhood struggling with this reality. It wasn’t until I encountered Jesus that I learned I could struggle through this reality of my life and not just with it. To struggle through something is like driving through a tunnel—it may be dark for a while but eventually there will be a light again.
I don’t know what your struggle is, but I do know that when you find your hope in Jesus of Nazareth, you are anchoring yourself in eternal truth that allows you to go beyond just struggling with whatever it is, even if it is chronic (health problems, anxiety, depression, anger, doubts, isolation, etc.).
This is because Jesus doesn’t just define what hope, freedom, peace, joy, love, and life are, He is the source of all of these things. Jesus designed you to live a life full of hope, freedom, peace, joy, love, and life through your circumstances, not just with them.
So, how do I know? It boils down to a choice—and I’ve made mine.
Josiah Piett wrote the book Beautifully Simple, which you can purchase here:
Thank you for the all of the support thus far in this journey.