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Friday, March 28, 2008

Introducing Jesus Part Tres

Think of all the different stories you know about how people have “come to Jesus.”

People respond to Jesus in a variety of ways. There are hundreds of people reading this post that started following Jesus in a much different way than I did.

There are some who came to Jesus over a long period of time. They would be hard-pressed to sit down with us and tell us their “spiritual birth date” like the sweet old ladies I know from church who know EXACTLY when they became Christians.

Maybe you never grew up in the Church. There wasn’t an earthquake or a blinding light in your journey. The clouds didn’t part and the angels didn’t descend. You didn’t hear a voice from heaven. All you know is that at one time in your life you were opposed to God. Maybe you were antagonistic towards Him; you were shaking your fist at him. Now you find yourself totally, absolutely in love with Jesus. You don’t know how you got here. You just know that you’re here.

This is my dad’s story. He doesn’t walk around the property naked anymore (that I know of). I remember being at a church barbecue picnic with him one time and this lady came up to him saying, “Oh, I’ve heard so much about your story and how you came to Jesus. Tell me, what is the date?” My dad said, “Huh?” “Your spiritual birth date-- the day that you came to know Jesus. What is it?” My dad said, “Ah, I don’t know.” I thought this lady was going to have a coronary.

She laid hands on him right then. She put her hand on his forehead and said, “Oh, John, you’ve got to say these words with me.” Then she started reciting some words that she called The Sinner’s Prayer which, by the way, I’ve never found in the Bible. My dad had to repeat it word for word with her and she went away feeling so good that day. My dad walked away going, “What the heck was that?”

Now, she really is a sweet lady. She meant no harm. Actually, she was loving my dad the best way she knew how. But, on the other hand, if I could stop that kind of thing from ever happening again I would love to give it a shot.

Sometimes people like my dad look at other people and say, “Man, I wish I had your story. I wish that I didn’t grow up with all of the junk. I wish that I would have grown up in the Church like you. I wish I learned what you did as a child.

Then there’s another kind of person who came to God and to faith in Jesus through immersion and participation in Church culture and maybe even some religious rights…catechism and communion. They participated in sacraments and maybe they went to a Vacation Bible School.

Maybe they came from the Catholic Church or the Lutheran Church or the Baptist Church or the Methodist Church or the Presbyterian Church and the stories became part of their DNA. After a while, they found themselves in a spot going, “Wow, I would call myself a Christ follower now. I don’t know exactly how I got here but here I am.

These people sometimes look at people like my dad and think, “Man, I wish I had a story like yours, I mean my story is so boring. I grew up with a mom and dad, a dog, a cat, and a great American family. I never killed anyone; I never did drugs. I never stole anything and dang, my story’s just not compelling. Nobody’s going to listen to my story.” All the while my dad is thinking, “are you crazy?”

There’s a third type of person. This person came to Jesus in a revival kind of a way. One day, BAM!, Jesus showed up on the scene. Hallelujah. The heavens parted, the clouds rolled back, the angels descended, they heard a voice from Heaven, and they found themselves in a new spot. They were blind and now they see.

This is very legitimate, but sometimes this person doesn’t understand the other two, because they have a hard time being patient with the people who are not quick to make a decision to follow God . . . because . . . after all . . . that’s how it happened for them.

All of these people (and there are certainly more kinds of people) have one thing in common. They heard the story from someone else.