A guest post by Jonathan Diaso
This is a guest post written by my son, Jonathan Diaso. He wrote this in memory of his sister, Hannah Elizabeth Diaso. Last Friday, October 18th was the 3rd year anniversary of when Hannah moved to heaven.
I love how Jonathan shares his journey and how the Lord used his sister in his life. I asked Jonathan if it would be okay to share it with you on my blog, and he agreed!
I used to be a Christian – How I left the Church and Finally Found Jesus
I still wonder to this day how I was churched since I was born, but never actually knew Jesus on a personal level. Some of you may have a similar experience and some of you may think the idea of “knowing Jesus” is crazy. You might also be wondering how leaving the church led me to Jesus. God has put this on my heart to share with those who have been to church and never really encountered Jesus, those who have never been to church and also those who have a negative perspective on the word Church or Christianity. While I love Jesus there are concerns I have regarding the word “Christian”. What makes a person a Christian anyhow?
You may have been told that if you do all the right things then Jesus will love you. Whether this emphasis was intended by the church or not I often felt this way. Jesus opened my eyes by showing me that I am welcome “As is”. I do not have to earn his love as he loved me before I was even born. I do good things, because I am loved by God not so that God will love me back. I believe we have a hard time rationalizing this as how many of your friends would love you back if you did not show them affection? “The Christian does not believe that God will love us because we are good rather that he will make us good because he loves us” (C.S. Lewis). God loves you as you are and not as you should be.
My Christian friends and I would meet up years ago and discuss which biblical laws we were or were not following, we tried to be good people. C.S. Lewis explains this very well, “No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good”. The Bible talks about the law of works or what I call the do good things gospel and this type of Christianity does not work. While this method seeks to fix the side effects of how we should behave, this process forgets the purpose as to why we do these things. I once heard the statement, “Some people have just enough Jesus to be miserable”.
I am a Christian, I go to church (in-fact I love my church family), but being a Christian far exceeds attending Church. My Church reads this card every service, “If you are a… Saint, Sinner, Loser, Gambler, Lost, Fearful, ADHD, Liar, Hypocrite, Bastard, Lover, Cutter, Tweaker, Alcoholic, Adopted, Abandoned, Leftover, Divorced, LGBT, Alone, Old, Young, Driven, Cheater, Success, Infected, Rejected, Pierced and Tatted or Just a Misfit… YOU ARE WELCOME HERE” (The Sanctuary Church). I believe that all are welcome in God’s house and are loved where they are at. In other words you come in a mess and God says, “I am going to make your mess a message.”
Why do I bring this all up today? Three years ago my sister Hannah moved to heaven. Hannah accepted everyone and brought the gospel to outcasts. At Hannah’s prayer vigil I heard many stories of how Hannah had impacted those around her. One of them shared by her friend Jake stood out to me, “No one loved those around her more than Hannah, she knew how to love the margins. When we were out doing ministry Hannah felt God speak to her and she knew she needed to go pray for a man sitting nearby. The man that stood out to Hannah was covered in tattoos (even a tear tattoo next to his eye, commonly a prison tattoo). Plainly put, this man was someone that people often try to avoid. Hannah Did not care what he looked like, what his background was, whether he did good things with his life, how he dressed etc. Hannah knew that God’s love transcended social status and she knew how to bring the message of the Gospel to people of all colors, races and social statuses. When Hannah prayed for this stranger he began to cry, he could not understand why my sister cared about him. He likely knew he did not earn or deserve her love that day. Hannah went up to him without fear of how he would react, she knew that Jesus would do the rest.” Jake did share with me that he would not let her go by herself, which was still a smart call. Jake was amazed by the passion and love that this young woman carried.
Hannah was highly influential in my life as I attribute much of who I am today to her example over the years. Hannah reminded me later in life that it is not enough to be a Christian and to try to be good people so that we can make it to heaven. We were put on this earth for a reason and God wants to use you and me to love those around us and yes this means loving people before they earn it. I spent many years of my life trying to be a good Christian, hiding my issues in attempt to be accepted and loved by other Christians. I now know that, God does not need to use guilt and shame, because love and grace do a damn good job. There is a famous song that goes, “I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross”. While this is a powerful line used to thank Jesus for what he did, we actually have a need to know how much it cost for him to die on that cross. When you and I realize how much it cost we also realize our value. Before you and I did anything to earn his love, God sent his son to die for you and me. “Christ proved God’s passionate love for us by dying in our place while we were still lost and ungodly!” (Romans 5:8, TPT). While I left the church years ago, I encountered Jesus in various ways since. While I am still in process and in pursuit of a deeper relationship with our Heavenly Father, God is still molding me daily to be more like Christ. Christianity is no longer a religion for me. This is the story of how one woman in her short life impacted her older brother and many others around her in an incredible way. If you want to know Jesus on a more personal level send me a message. This could change your life.