Christian offers apologies

Today marks my last Thursday of classes at Kent State, and I’m sorry for graduating without making a positive difference on campus.

The simple answer to the pop-culture question, “What would Jesus do?” is this: to love people more than myself. Two summers ago, I prayed to God and asked that He take over my life. I intended to keep my word, but fell pretty short and have acted selfishly many times — I’ve been a jerk to a lot of people I’ve had contact with. I’ve failed to show others God’s love for us all. For that, I’m sorry.

I haven’t shot or stabbed anyone for their beliefs, but I’ve thought a lot of you were stupid for your thoughts. I looked down on students and professors with whom I didn’t agree. Sorry for not giving your views a fair shake.

But please don’t fault the object of my faith for my own failings. The Bible outlines how we should live, and I realize I’ve fallen short. I’ve been a hypocrite plenty of times by pointing out others’ mistakes and then committing the same errors myself. The Bible also says that God allows us to screw up. He promises to forget our mistakes and asks for a relationship in return. That relationship comes when we realize how much we do mess up and we promise God we’ll make an intense effort to live our lives for Him.

Your life’s outcome depends on your view of Jesus. Was he a liar? He claimed to be God. If that was a lie, Jesus was history’s biggest and widest-believed liar. But if he was telling the truth, if the eyewitness accounts of his resurrection are true and if all the people whose lives have been changed by Christ are not mental cases, how will you respond?

The Crusaders and the Inquisitioners were clearly following their own faulty doctrine. So don’t blow off God because of them. And don’t say Jesus is a fraud, God’s dead or Christianity is bunk just because Christians mess up. Doing so would be like throwing out the function of multiplication because a fourth grader got a math problem wrong. The principle is correct and works, but the middleman screwed up. Don’t look for Jesus by befriending Christians, who are secondary sources. Investigate on your own.

And since a farewell column’s worth is determined by its thank-yous, I thank my parents for their love that I never deserved and my brother and his wife for being good people. And I thank my friends (whatever their spiritual beliefs) and leaders who acted as mentors. Your lives were examples I often tried to match.

And yeah, I’m another one of those secondary sources of Christianity. I don’t have anything to offer except what I’ve found to be true. So in the style of Levar Burton, don’t take my word for any of this stuff. Find Jesus for yourself in the pages of the Bible, the principle source. Don’t take it on blind faith. Read what Jesus says about himself and about God. Then make your own decision.

The thing that has enabled me to realize and apologize for my mistakes is my faith in Jesus. And that faith is the one thing for which I’m not sorry. Thank you.

Matthew Forte is a senior magazine journalism major. Contact him at [email protected].