Along my life journey I have no memory of not being a Christian. I am told, though, that I must have experienced a believer’s conversion at some point in my life. Like many other Christian-raised believers, I do not have a before and after story to share. My faith was shaped within an ethnically-mixed background although I was born and raised in Australia. My mother was American-born; my father, Turkish-born. Both were Greek and Greek Orthodox so I was baptised as an infant in the Greek Orthodox Church. I was a part of the Greek community in the gorgeous city of Brisbane.
The first theological question I ever had came at some time in early childhood in Brisbane, to be specific, in my home. For the first time, I heard someone praying in English. English! Could God understand the prayer? All of my spiritual experiences up to that moment had happened in the context of a Greek Church. Just before I reached 7 years of age, my family moved south to Melbourne. No more extended family (except during holidays), no more Queensland sunshine and heat, no more Greek Orthodox Church – at least on a regular basis. Circumstances led to us living further from a Greek Orthodox Church so I was sent to a local Church and Sunday school which happened to be Methodist. Just as well I had the shock of learning that God could speak English a few years earlier because that probably inoculated me from getting too fussy about the missing icons, candles, incense and priestly robes.
I am grateful for the presence and ministries of the Greek Orthodox, Methodist and later, Baptist, Anglican and Presbyterian Churches in my life. They have all offered me valuable theological perspectives and good Christian communities. The continuity among all of these churches is their high view of Scripture – and this includes the Greek Orthodox Church. My mother and aunty, both Greek Orthodox Christians, revered Scripture. I found my way into the Protestant Church at age 7 and I could not now see myself in any other Christian expression of worship. Every now and then I would be lobbied to attend worship at the Greek Orthodox Church but as my understanding of faith came via the Protestant Church, I could not return. I was troubled by this so consulted my mother’s kindly Greek Orthodox priest who assured me that worship in a way that is meaningful to me is fine. So I happily embrace Protestantism as my mode of believing while at the same time acknowledging the faith of those from Christian traditions outside of my own.
Counterintuitively, it took Catholics to teach me grace. The film, ‘The Passion Of The Christ’, helped me to apprehend God’s grace at a spiritual level. Although I could understand grace intellectually, it was not until I saw that film that my spiritual understanding of grace was awakened in a new way. Having experienced so many Christian traditions, this was the one thing, this grace, that I wanted to understand…and I eventually did.
My faith journey has not always been smooth sailing. I have had to sort out my beliefs in many aspects of faith. I have had faith challenges at certain significant life junctures. I have pondered for a long time the inherent leftism of the majority of evangelicals I know. I was in “cell” groups with them, like we were in Marxist cells. But I still consider myself an evangelical because in its best form it so clearly delineates through its teachings, and focuses on, Christ as the only one, true and acceptable sacrifice for our sins, provided to us as the source of our reconciliation with God. Nothing else is required for peace with God. This, of course, does not mean that when we become Christians we can give ourselves licence to live without reference to God and His desires for how we live our everyday lives. We need to be on guard and aim to grow in faith and likeness to God daily through prayer and Bible study.
I offer this resource in the hope that you will be encouraged to pursue your knowledge of faith in Christ as He is shown to be in the Bible, our ultimate guide. I also wish it to be an encouragement to anyone exploring Christianity, whether for the first time, or again. God’s revelation in the Bible is as relevant to us today as in every age, if you read it carefully. I encourage you to pursue your understanding of Who God is and of knowing Him.