If you were one of hundreds of youth who decided that you wanted to commit or recommit your life to Jesus at RICE Rally, the first thing you need to know is how great it is and how happy we are for you.
Jesus tells us that even when one sinner repents (turns back to God), even the angels in heaven are partying (Luke 15:10).
You may have just taken your first step into a totally different life. A life where you’re no longer in the centre, but where the God who loves you and sent his Son to die for you is. It’s how you and I were created to live – not just now, but from now and into all eternity. What could be better than that?
But a week or two on, you might be wondering, ‘now what?’ What’s a new life with Jesus at the centre supposed to look like?
Obviously a short article like this can’t answer that question. The Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a journey that might have begun now, but a journey in which you will grow and learn and get better at for the rest of your life through all the ups and downs.
So the aim of this article is just to get you started. What can you do to help your new life with Jesus in these early days and weeks?
Here are five suggestions:
- Begin Praying
Praying is just talking to God. It may feel weird at first, but it’s actually one of the most natural things we do as human beings. People of all cultures through all the ages have found themselves praying – even if they were praying to gods who aren’t really there.
You are now in relationship with a God who is real, a Lord who is risen and alive, and who lives inside of you by his Spirit (don’t worry if you didn’t get all that – it’s all true though!). Relationships need communication. Prayer is that way in which you begin speaking to God and inviting him into your life as your Father in heaven who loves you and wants you to grow in relationship with him.
So pray. Don’t worry about not making sense. Don’t worry if it doesn’t sound like anyone’s listening sometimes. Just start talking to God, however, whenever, and wherever you feel like you can.
- Read your Bible
You may have received a new Bible courtesy of the Bible Society at RICE Rally. Our good friends there gave you one so you’d start reading it. So go ahead, open its pages, and begin getting to know God through his Word.
Even if you didn’t receive a Bible, you can find a free Bible app on your phone or tablet. Those apps will even have guides (called reading plans) to help you read it.
A lot of people new to Bible reading will tell you it’s best not to start from the beginning and try to go all the way from cover to cover. The Bible is a collection of books, so it’s ok to pick a book and read that.
If you’re new to Bible reading, a good place to start is the New Testament (books written after Jesus came), and one of the biographies about Jesus’ life (called Gospels). Pick one of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John and start there.
Another tip. Don’t try to read too much in one sitting. It’s best to read a little but do it regularly (every day if you can).
Begin by praying a short prayer that God would help you understand and hear his voice. Read the passage. And if you have a notebook, jot down: (i) what stood out for you or grabbed your attention in the passage; (ii) what bits you have questions about or found hard to understand; and (iii) how do you think it applies to you or call on you to change your thinking or actions in some way.
Don’t worry if you have more questions from Bible reading than anything else. Like a new friendship, getting to know God through his Word will seem unfamiliar and strange at first, but will get easier and better as you persist with it.
- Find other Christians to meet with
The Christian life is not only a marathon, it’s a team marathon, where you’re not supposed to finish on your own. So don’t try! When you became a follower of Jesus, God adopted you as his child and put you in a family with other children of God. It’s the best thing ever, so enjoy it!
Find other Christians to meet with. The usual way is to find a church, especially one with a youth group that your Christian friends might go to. Join them!
Or, you might have a Christian group at school. Find your ISCF or Crusaders group at school and join them. If you have Christian Scripture, ask your parents if you can go along to them (if you’re currently in non-Scripture).
Finding other Christians to read the Bible with, pray with, hang with, chat with, and worship God with is going to be vital for your relationship with God to grow. So don’t miss out on it.
- Ask questions
Christians aren’t dumb people who switch off their brains to believe in God. We’re also not a cult that discourages people from asking questions. You’re probably going to have lots of questions. Find someone who’s been Christian for longer and ask them.
If you’re stuck on who you can ask these questions to, your church’s youth leaders, or Christian group’s leaders can usually help. Or hop online and ask one of the leaders of the RICE movement. We’d love to help point you in the right direction.
- Make your new relationship with God known to others
Finally, don’t keep this good news to yourself. Speak about it. Speak about it with your friends and your family, even if they’re not followers of Jesus and think you’re a little bit crazy. Don’t try to Bible bash them or shove it down their throat, but gently and enthusiastically share about what difference Jesus has begun to make in your life.
And here it’s worth mentioning that words on their own will not be very effective. Actions do speak louder than words sometimes, so even as you speak, live a life as best as you know how that has Jesus in the centre. Start saying ‘no’ to sinful behaviours and thoughts. Start saying ‘yes’ to being selfless and caring and loving to others (especially your parents and siblings!).
So there it is. Just a way to start this wonderful journey that God has taken you on. The Christian life will have ups and downs. When you are going through a ‘down’, don’t forget that no matter what happens, Jesus has got you, and nothing you can do can make him love you less. If you mess up, confess it to him, ask for forgiveness, and start again. You’re now a son or daughter of the King of kings, and he loves you so much.
Begin living every day in light of that, and enjoy your new relationship with God. It’s not always easy, but it’s awesome!
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38–39