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Unbelievably Changed by Religion

Updated on March 27, 2013

I recently came across an old letter from an old friend, and it made me reflect on the sudden change I'd seen in him.

It was quite remarkable. If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes I wouldn't have believed that someone could change quite so much.

Late one night in a college bar a long time ago, he and I were having a very drunken conversation about the evils of religion and how it didn't make sense, and how all it did was cause wars and massive problems within families, and people to do dreadful things in its name - and other such beer-fuelled rants.

As a Jew-ish Agnostic it was refreshing to talk with someone who had similar views and similar doubts about the whole religion thing. Particularly because in our small church-town university, a lot of our good friends were Christians whose social life revolved around the Christian groups, and we often went along for the ride because they were our friends.

But we felt like we were in the minority, and while we didn't mean any disrespect to our friends it was good to be letting off steam, airing views without offending people, and being able to talk about subjects which for some were considered taboo, or likely to shock.

We had a lot of good talks like that, we liked to "put the world to rights". We were good friends, we clicked. We found it easy to talk to one another. Friendships like that are rare. And I think it's only when you get older, and you've maybe lost touch with those friends that you realise this.

Shortly after that conversation about religion my friend graduated and I didn't see him for several months.

When we met up later on in town he was a changed man. At first I wasn't sure if I was being scammed. He was the kind of guy to play a practical joke. Or at least he had been.

I did a double-take when I first spotted my friend that day, dressed up smart in a suit. He had always been a baggy-jeans kind of a man, and scruffy, much like a male version of me.

He sat down, looking somewhat serious. And he pointed out that he wasn't going to light a cigarette as he didn't smoke any more. This was bomb-shell number two. At college he had been a chain-smoker. I noted on that day that his familiar stale-smoke smell had indeed gone.

He explained that he had given up smoking overnight after he decided to accept Jesus into his life and become a Christian. I nearly choked on my coffee. That was bomb-shell number three, and it was the big one.

He started to explain that he'd had some problems in his life, and started to question what was important. He felt the need to go and visit a local church and the minister's wife talked to him about Jesus, and everything that she said had made perfect sense to him. He began to attend the church regularly and made lots of friends. He'd even met a girl there, who he thought he was in love with.

I could see that he was happy and was delighted for him, but I felt like he was a completely different person. Other than his face and his voice, my friend was no longer in there. Ironic though it may sound as I'm talking about Christianity, it was like he had been possessed.

The conversation took a turn for the disturbing when he started saying that maybe I should explore Christianity too. And that hadn't Jesus been a Jew?

Ok, so my views on religion had calmed slightly since the drunken rant-night, and I would never deny anybody their right to believe in exactly what they wished, but this was not the friend I remembered. In his previous incarnation he would never have dreamed of evangelising to me. He knew how much I hated this.

I had been stopped on campus far too many times, by well-meaning strangers trying to save my soul. Criticising my own religion and saying that theirs was the only true way. I arrived in tears at one of my final exams, having been delayed by a Christian gentleman who told me I was going to go to hell. My friend knew this, he knew I was not somebody he should preach to.

I left very confused that day. I had just had lunch with someone I didn't know. Before, he had always been full of life - larger than life some would say. He liked a joke, he liked going to pubs and to parties, he liked the ladies, but at the same time he was honest, kind and respectful. Everybody liked him. He had the gift of getting on with people, every kind of person, students and teachers alike.

Now his personality seemed smaller, deflated. He was two-dimensional instead of three. The vibrancy was no longer there, something was missing. I no longer knew him and I felt cheated. Was I wrong to feel that? He was still physically there after all. But it felt as if I'd lost someone, lost my friend.

We kept in touch for a while, but no longer having anything in common we drifted apart. How can somebody change so very dramatically? How can they become somebody we no longer recognise? And when they've changed into this other person, where does the old person go?


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    • Moon Daisy profile image

      Moon Daisy 4 years ago from London

      Thanks for your comment and your advice RTalloni. That's interesting what you say about him being in the early, or infant stage at that time, I wouldn't have thought of that. And thank you for visiting this page.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Hi there! I've just now come to this after replying to your comment on my Christmas greeting hub and found it an interesting read. The experience you've had with your friend would naturally be very curious to you.

      While it does sound like he did become a Christian (Christ follower), it could be important for you to remember that he was beginning a journey (process) and the stage he was at is often referred as the infant stage. If he did come to Christ according to the Scriptures, then he is in a process of change that even he may not yet have fully understood and he was doing his best to communicate about it. I guess I'm saying that you sound like a person who could be generous to someone in such a stage, especially once you understood more about it. If he searched out the mind of Christ for his life he would continue to grow and expand into all that he was meant to be and be able to live out his faith maturely.

      There is no secret to it, the knowledge is available to all and free. Since you have questions as an unbeliever may I suggest that you patiently and prayerfully read the book of Mark? Just ask for help to understand if you really want that and let God help you. He desires for us to ask Him questions and seek His help to understand His Word to us!

    • Moon Daisy profile image

      Moon Daisy 4 years ago from London

      Thank you for this further comment Ericdierker. You raise a very interesting point.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I remain following this hub and glad to see the new comment. This is a serious issue for "born agains". Yes it true they become anew.

      But this is the rub. Old friends are still "neighbors". The rebirth is supposed to be in the loving care of Jesus. If a rebirth results in negative behavior toward others -- it is axiomatic that it is not a Christian rebirth. It cannot be, it is like insisting purple is orange. It is the transformation that creates the reality not the name given it. If the transformation is not of love then it is not in Christ.

      Personally I suggest that unless you are grounded firmly in a space to help this kind of person that it is best to run away.

      I have to deal with this all the time. But I am such a mature Christian that I am an old Christian -- though I try to remain as a child. If I were so good that I could be sanctimonious I would say it was an evil transformation. But since I am mostly a no good, I must just say it is misguided.

    • Moon Daisy profile image

      Moon Daisy 4 years ago from London

      Thanks for your answer Benjamin. It's interesting to get answers from all different points of view.

    • profile image

      Benjamin Chege 4 years ago

      Great hub Moon Daisy, I think Christianity is a journey that starts at a different time for everyone. However, in the end we all become equal in the eyes of God as our sins get washed away and we become new persons. That is the only way to redeem ourselves from our sinful nature.

    • Moon Daisy profile image

      Moon Daisy 4 years ago from London

      Thanks for your comment WiccanSage. (Great name by the way). Yes, too true, taking on a new world view changes everything about a person. I like your description of this transition. It does feel like the old person is gone, strange to think of this, and that he is somebody else now..

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 4 years ago

      This is very interesting. I've seen religious conversions bring out the best in people, as well as the worst in people. It does seem to often interfere with old friendships, though; I guess that's just part of the nature of change. When someone takes on a whole new world view, the old interests and beliefs fade, and there is little left in common with old friends. I guess the "old person' is dead-- it's a transition, what's gone is gone and falls away, with something new born in its place.

    • Moon Daisy profile image

      Moon Daisy 4 years ago from London

      Thanks for your comment. That's an interesting point about all the other things being normal for a graduate. Yes, the smart suit and taking things more seriously would fit, and playing a new role. Yes, while I don't have anything against Christianity or any religion, sometimes people use it as a crutch, instead of sorting things out in their life.

      (I apologise btw. that I had an extra paragraph at the end where I repeated myself. I'd written that part a while ago, didn't realise and wrote it again! I only noticed it after I pressed the publish button, and then my internet stopped working! Just managed to delete it. :) )

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very interesting tale. If you left out anything to do Christianity I would say this is very normal for the graduate. It stinks but it is about the process of maturing --- everything becomes more serious. We begin to play a new role in life.

      As to the Christianity part, that is very sad. Someone is not loving him enough.