At the beginning of my testimony, I speak about my first encounter with God at the age of eight or nine. I was watching a movie about the life of Jesus, I think it was "The Robe", and as the scenes of the Jesus' crucifixion faded from the TV screen, I asked God why such a loving, caring, and kind man as Jesus had to die such a horrible death.
Notice the words I used to describe Jesus: "loving, caring, and kind". As children, we are taught that Jesus was the nicest person who ever lived and that in his humanity he epitomizes God's love for us. Now this is true, but if we correctly read the scriptures, we also see another side of Jesus, the one who continually challenges his disciples and us to "deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow him."
The question for each of us is "Which Jesus do I follow, the one I read about in the gospels or the one I constructed in my childhood?" The answer is fairly simple. If what I read in the gospels challenges me, then I am following the true Jesus. If what I read in the gospels never bothers me, then I am following a Jesus of my own construction.
For reflection, I recommend you read one of two passages:
Mark 8:27-29 and ponder the question, "But who do you say that I am?"
Luke 9:23-25 and ponder the question, "What does it mean to deny myself, take up my cross daily, and follow Jesus?"
Remember to spend 10 minutes a day in the classroom of silence with God.