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Yesterday in church I listened to another great message about God’s transforming power. I heard how as a young boy this Pastor learned he needed Jesus’ forgiveness, and he began to live under God’s grace as a changed, transformed Christian. It is a great story. As Christians we hear it all the time. Over and over, young and old, they come, telling about lives wretched with sin and unworthiness. Then they find God’s love and transformation in Jesus.
I love those stories but I don’t relate to them. I think it all sounds great but it isn’t my story at all.
I do understand in my heart the whole sin thing. Absolutely without a doubt I was a sinner too. Selfish, mean, lazy, vengeful… the whole ball of wax. I understand that I too need Jesus’ sinless sacrifice to make things right with God. But that wasn’t what got me to the cross. That wasn’t what turned the key and opened the door to Jesus for me.
It was truth.
Plain and simple.
The problem is that for years I have beat myself up with the idea that I wasn’t a very good Christian because I wasn’t undone by my wretchedness and my need for a Savior; a need for escape and forgiveness. I actually was a pretty good unbeliever, in the sense that I was a kinda nice person and could have slipped right by Jesus; living my nice person life without him.
Let me explain.
I was 16 and in my junior year of high school. I had a friend who had a Christian boyfriend. Not a boy who went to church but a living-breathing-every-part-of-his-life-sold-out-Christian. My friend also began to live out her new faith in the same way. They were quite a pair
We hung out together and I ate lunch with them every day.
And every day I got Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.
I was asked what I believed and why I believed it. I had to think.
And that was the key to my heart.
You see, I didn’t feel wretched; no addictions, no crisis, I didn’t need Jesus. So in God’s wisdom my friends talked to me about Jesus, not me . They gave me Truth. With a capital T. That was all I needed.
We talked about what I thought I believed. And they simply asked, “Why do you believe that?” I had to think, to dig for answers. Then they said things like: “The Bible says Jesus is God’s Son, born to die. What are you going to do with that?”
That did it for me. I was challenged by the Truth. I wasn’t told how sinful I was. I wasn’t told I needed to pray, read the Bible, go to church or youth group, change my clothes, friends, or lifestyle. I wasn’t judged or shunned. These conversations went on for 9 months. They were patient and loving with me. But every day I was confronted by the mighty Truth of the Great IAM. The unquestionable LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And the Son, Jesus Christ. Messiah, Prince of Peace.
So when I tell the story of how Jesus changed my life, I say I just got to a point where I knew my friends were right. It made sense to me.
Jesus was Truth. And I wanted Him in my life.
Mr Lewis says it for me so well:
“One of the great difficulties… is the question of truth. People always think you are recommending Christianity not because it is true but because it is good. And in the discussion they will at every moment try to escape from the issue “true –or False” into stuff about the Spanish Inquisition, or France or Poland- or anything whatever. You have to keep forcing them back, and again back, to the real point. Only thus will you be able to undermine…their belief that a certain amount of religion is desirable but one mustn’t carry it too far. One must keep on pointing out that Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important. “
Christian Apologetics, C. S. Lewis
If you are praying for someone in your life who doesn’t yet understand or know Jesus as Savior, remember that the path to his heart may be different from the way you got there. Listen to the Holy Spirit and He will tell you the words you need. And don’t be afraid of the simple uncompromising Truth.