How eye-opening it would be if I could ask my children what life was like in the womb, and they could remember enough to answer with confidence, in earnest detail… oh what fascinating commentary I would gain. How much more wild it would be to be able to ask a previously deceased person about their experience of returning from the dead (heaven tourism genre aside), or a blind friend who suddenly was healed and able to see the entire world – bright and bold and clear.
This is the opportunity my husband shared with me as he interviewed his friend, and now new brother-in-Christ, about his recent conversion. This friend just trusted in Jesus for the first time, having studied the Scripture with believers for awhile now. He knows what his life was like not so long ago, what spiritual death and blindness were like before his rebirth in Christ.
Our new brother is candid and sincere in his following of Jesus, but the country he was born in is not favorable to Christ-followers. He chooses to remain anonymous, but oh how I hope you can talk with him in glory one day.
(The dialogue below is a recent conversation with our beloved brother we’ll call “Sam.”)
What were some barriers in the way of your coming to Christ?
“Okay, the most important barrier for me: Jesus says, ‘you will hate your life once you’re a follower of me’ right? [John 12:25] Thats one of my biggest worries, how will my life all change? How my attitude will change, how my morals will change… I’ve been a different person for twenty-one years; following Christ is something I’ve never done. He talks about some things I’m not comfortable with, like ‘love everyone’.
Also, I thought the purpose of one’s life is to have a good life. Earn a decent job, earn as much money as you can. But I don’t think that’s what Jesus wants. I think it doesn’t even matter what you have (compared) to Jesus. That’s one thing specifically that kept me thinking for awhile now.”
What did you trust in before you put your trust in Jesus?
“I used to believe in me a lot. Like if I plan well, I can do this. If I plan everything ahead of time, everything will fall into place, because of some supernatural forces or things. I was trusting in my own abilities. Previously I thought there was no life after death, this is a one-way ticket. I thought I should maybe trust in my own abilities. My main goal was to be successful.
One other thing, I thought you need to be perfect before coming to Christ, like on my own abilities, I can become perfect. Then I would accept Christ. Then he will be much more happy with me. Now I know that without the help of God, you cannot do anything. You cannot even study His word properly. I think the Bible says very clearly, there is a Bible word that says, ‘trust not in your own abilities, lean towards God.’ His understanding transcends everything. That’s what changed after reading the Bible for me. You cannot do anything without Him. You cannot even move.”
These words are Sam’s beautiful testimony, and all glory to God, all incredible surpassing joy for this new life! Though we are different, common threads of the human spirit weave throughout time and geographic location and culture, Sam is now our brother! But his worries and fears and hurdles to faith aren’t dissimilar to those we face here in America…
Trusting in self vs. trusting “in the Lord with all your heart.” Proverbs 3:5
Cleaning up your act to gain acceptance from Jesus vs. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
Fearing that God is an unloving and joyless master vs. “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.” Romans 6:17-18, 22
As my pastor, Mark Vroegop, wisely states, “The enemy has not changed his tactics, he’s merely put on new window dressing.”
Though our hearts strayed from Him and believed in our own counterfeit righteousness, trying in vain to lord over our own lives, all the while attracted to the world’s best attempts at satisfaction, BUT! He comes after our hearts in hot pursuit.
He covered Sam in His perfectly white holiness just as he did with me. He demonstrated His loving Lordship coupled with His kind friendship … all so that we can be freed from our bondage to the world. He wins us before our sin and it’s consequences are even really & fully known to us. Such grace. Such love. Such mercy.
Are you free?
May Sam’s sweet testimony remind you, you don’t have to be perfect to come to Christ. He’s always wanted you and His arms are open wide.
“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”