I am Five17
The Short Version
I love Jesus, He set me Free. That is all.
The Long Version
My story is pretty complicated and yet pretty simple all at the same time. My parents were divorced when I was only 9 months old. I never really knew my biological father growing up. Our relationship was marked by distance as he was in the Air Force and moved around the country and world for most of his career, so it was hard to establish a deep connection with him growing up. After her divorce from my father, my mom remarried an alcoholic. Unfortunately when we was drunk he was angry. Growing up I lived in a home filled with abuse, chaos, and extraordinary fear. As a got older that fear began to weave its way into every area of my life. My relationships, my decision making process, my view of the future, everything. There was nothing that fear didn't touch. Fear can shape a person, and it certainly shaped me. It also drove me into unhealthy places and patterns. I ran with the wrong crowd for a season of my life. I hurt a lot of people in order to sooth my own emotional pain and trauma. I took advantage of relationships and people. I created an enormous amount of shame and guilt with the mistakes I made and the broken I left in my own wake. Looking back, it's still hard to believe I lived the way I did. Ironically, All of this took place while growing up in the church. I was the picture perfect altar boy, went to Sunday school, catechism, wore the gold cross around my neck and the Jesus t-shirts on my chest. On the outside I was a walking bill board for the cause of Christ. On the inside I was a disaster waiting to happen. And my freshman year of high school the disaster came to a full boil. I tried taking my own life and was put into the hospital for three weeks. I simply could not bear the load of fear, shame and guilt anymore.
That's the complicated part. Its deeper and far more involved than what I've written here, but you get the point.
The simple part in all of this.
His love. His grace. His Mercy. His forgiveness. His redemption.
Jesus is the reason I am who I am today.
Pure and simple.
Even though I had grown up in the church, it wasn't until later in life I realized just how personal Jesus is. That he came to save the world, yes, but he came to save me. And not just to save from an eternity apart from my Heavenly Father, but to save me from a life of anxiety. To save me from a life of guilt and debilitating shame. To save me from living a life marked by hiding and fear. His sacrifice on the cross brought a freedom to my heart I had never known until I realized just how much he cares for me...personaly.
Paul writes in his second letter to the Corinthians,
"Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come."
-2 Corinthians 5:17
This is my life verse. I am a walking talking reality of that Scripture.
I am Five17
And the deepest desire of my heart is to help as many people as possible live in the freedom Christ purchased for them on the cross. I'm not interested in trying to persuade people into "religion." I have no desire to talk people into making MY faith their faith. I simply want people to know who Christ is, what he has done for them, to surrender their heart to him and then live in the freedom he purchased for them.
And I believe the church is one of the most powerful ways to accomplish that mission. I understand that the church has a sordid history. We've made a lot of mistakes, at times we are down right ugly. But that's because the church is filled with imperfect people marked by their own brokenness. I'm not making excuses for the church. But the church needs just as much grace as everyone else does.
Grace is the great equalizer of us all, because everyone of us needs it.
The greatest story ever told is about a Jewish Carpenter who came into an imperfect world in order to set people free from the brokenness they found themselves in. Jesus is doing the same thing today, he's just doing it through the church.
And the craziest part of the story is he's doing it through imperfect, broken, "man I gotta past" kinda people like me.
The Church is the hope of the World.
And I'm gonna bring as much hope to Colorado and the world as I can.
Maybe you'll partner with us in our mission. We'd love to have you join the cause.
Email Pastor Aaron here.