Everyone has an inner circle. The people whose phone calls we answer, regardless of when they call. The ones we go to for advice on important issues. The ones we hold in high esteem, just because of who they are. The ones we allow to see the real us, good or bad. What they say holds great weight with us. When they say something that hurts us, it usually sticks with us.
I have a small inner circle. It is not my place to judge, but if I were forced to give my feelings, I would say that two of those in my inner circle are not saved. That grieves me continuously and I ask God to reveal Himself to them almost daily. Recently I had a conversation with one of them, and the topic of one of my family members came up. That family member has blocked me on Facebook and I have not heard much from them over the last few years. I told my friend I added that family member to my church’s prayer list. At that point, my friend said, “You know why they don’t talk to you anymore? Because all you do is talk about Jesus and preach to them all the time.”
That was tough on me, not only because of who it was coming from, but also from recognizing the eternal consequences of the attitude exepmlified by my relative and my friend.
Increasingly in this world, to preach Christ is met with fury, ostracism, or even the threat of violence simply because of what we believe. It has almost become cliche to hear, “You are so judgmental. You think everyone is going to hell! Jesus was all about love, right?”
Taking the rhetoric out of the conversation typically helps convey an idea better, so I will quit talking about issues and simply focus on my faith. I am a sinner. Worse than you can imagine. For me to even be viewed as a preacher by anyone is almost laughable to me. I tell people all the time that what Paul said in 1 Timothy 1:15 was true until 1983. Paul said, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst.” That may have been true of Paul, until I was born.
I am the epitome of the reason Christ came to die. I was a sinner, and I liked sinning. I bragged about it. I dragged others down with me. I will not glorify my sins any further than that. I will say that I was as far away from Christ as anyone could possibly be. I thought Christians were a bunch of nuts and I was too smart to fall for all that stuff. I was a modern man and I did not need some ancient book to teach me anything.
I needed a Damascus Road experience to introduce me to Christ, and it wasn't until I had one that realized how much I needed it. It was unlike anything I have experienced, before or since. I asked Jesus Christ to become my Savior that night. That was my conversion experience. I could have called myself saved then, I guess.
I have learned, and am still learning, that becoming a Christian is not the end game. If anything, it is nothing more than opening the door of a lifelong journey. Many walk into the Christian life still living under the Law, the mindset of, “Oh, now I am a Christian, I have to be good and not do X.” To some extent, that is true. Romans 6:1-4 speaks of this:
“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
Is Scripture saying you are not allowed to sin once you become a Christian? Nope. If that were true, there would be no Christians. What separates the Christian, in the eyes of God, is not their acts, but the act of His Son. If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, you are sealed by the Holy Spirit and set apart forever.
Ephesians 1:13-14 says, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory.”
“Guaranteeing our inheritance.” That’s better than the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in my book any day. While the federal government will pass away, the Word of God never will.
So am I one of those crazy Jesus people? Yep. I am a follower of Jesus Christ. That makes me neither perfect nor God. What it does make me is forgiven because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for all the sins of mankind. It does make me redeemed in the eyes of God, not because of what I did, but because of what Jesus did. I have accepted the free gift of the grace of God. Despite all my warts and flaws, I will one day be called righteous due to the sacrifice of my Savior.
If that is my belief. How can I not tell that to someone else? I am not called to be Billy Graham, but I am called to tell everyone what I know: salvation is free and plentiful; there is no sin that can separate you from God through the sacrifice of His Son; there is more grace in God than there is sin in the world; it is your choice to accept or reject it. The choice is yours.
It is not my job to count numbers and successes. It is my job to present this dying world with the one thing that can save it, the gospel of Jesus Christ. If that makes me crazy, then I leave you with the words of King David, “I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes” (2 Samuel 6:22).