My mornings started earlier than most who were my age in my youth. During school days in high school, I woke up at 4 am to read the Bible and dissect Christian literature.
I meditated on Bible verses and passages for hours in those early still mornings and rarely told anyone that I was praying on their behalf to God. I cherished those quiet moments.
But my beliefs would not last.
My first book, Up in the Air: Christianity, Atheism & the Global Problems of the 21st Century details some of the ideological differences between Christianity and Atheism. Here, I focus more on the experiential side. Let me explain.
In school, I considered it a personal responsibility to testify to others about my walk with God not only with my words but in how I treated others. My faith was not merely that I chose not to swear, drink alcohol, or participate in what I thought to be ungodly behavior, like cheating on tests and gossiping about others.
My commitment was less about abstaining from behavior and more about delighting in different behavior, namely communion with God. I was often found with a book and was happily ostracized because of my commitment to Jesus. I never thought I was unique in this.
Nor did I feel particularly burdened. As I said, I may have abstained from the mundane pleasures of my peers, but I was a part of something that I cherished so much more.
Early Church Involvement
My commitment was also seen in that I attended every conference, Bible group, and youth meeting made available to me. I played in every worship group, and at the age of 14, when I was baptized, at times even led my congregation in prayer, as was the custom for those who became members of the church.
I urged members of our congregation to recommit themselves and live radically as the early church did. I would rarely receive praise apart from a few elders and my pastor. More often than not, many shrugged and said that my zealousness was because of my young age. It was just a stage, they thought.
I was impressed by my pastors, who could recite answers to what I thought were the most profound questions of life on evil, suffering, chastity, and all…