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A Supernatural Shakeup

Jonathan Tjarks is a staff­ writer at The Ringer who shares how he found meaning and identity in Christ:

I never thought I would become a Christian. I grew up believing science had all the answers, that religion was merely lingering superstition from a more primitive time. Adam and Eve, Noah’s ark, Jonah living in the belly of a whale for three days, none of it seemed plausible. Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny weren’t real, and Jesus Christ probably wasn’t either.

I spent my first 25 years living by my own standards. I partied, drank, did drugs, and looked for fulfillment in other people. None of it made me happy. I wasn’t content, no matter what I did.

My journey to faith began six years ago, when I had dinner with a co-worker and his wife who were evangelical Christians and the contrast between our lives was jarring. My co-worker and his wife never got drunk. Instead of getting messed up on weekends, they helped people.

The first thing that shook my view of the world was that it has seemingly been fine-tuned for our benefit. According to the British astronomer Martin Rees, the values of six physical properties of the universe had to be exactly right for life to exist. Scientists don’t really have an explanation. Not believing in a Creator is as much an article of faith as believing in one.

I’ve always been interested in history, and the more I studied, the more I saw how it validated Christian theology. The Jews believed a Messiah would come who would spread the worship of their God to every nation on earth. That faith allowed them to survive thousands of years of hardship and tragedy. Then, one day, a penniless Jewish preacher showed up, claiming to be the Son of God. Jesus gathered a few disciples, and was crucified. That should have been the end of his religion. There was no reason to think his crucifixion was the beginning of a religion that would change the world.

I still didn’t believe in the supernatural. Then I went to a New Year’s Eve EDM show. There’s no band at an EDM show. It’s just a DJ and a turntable. To liven things up, they usually play a video on the big screen that syncs with the music. When we walked into the concert, the mask from V for Vendetta was plastered across the screen.

I was rolling on Ecstasy, a psychedelic drug that opens up new pathways in your brain. As I watched the audience dance under the watchful eye of the V for Vendetta mask, the scales fell from my eyes. This was worship. We were worshiping a demon. We think we are so much more advanced than the people of ancient Babylon, but they were doing the exact same things. I felt something like a surge of lightning go through my body. I realized that just because I had never experienced the presence of God before didn’t mean that other people hadn’t.

I walked out of the concert knowing what I had to do next. I called my old co-worker and asked about churches in the area. Joining a church was awkward at first. When I went to a lifegroup meeting at someone’s house, it was the first time I had been sober at a social gathering in years.

Walking with the Lord hasn’t always been easy, and I’ve slipped up many times over the last five years. But I’ve never regretted the decision. I had spent my life searching for meaning in a million different places: career, girls, popularity, money. I got my identity through what other people thought of me. I was haunted by a fear that I was never good enough. Now my identity comes from Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross. Once I internalized those words, I was free.

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