by Jeff Kilmartin
Pastor, Wiesenthal Baptist Church
A while ago a young man called me on the phone to talk about a new business scheme he had just got involved in. It was 10 p.m. and he talked to me until it was midnight. Finally, he stopped for a breath and asked me what I thought of the whole matter. I am not a businessman but I did have one cogent question. I asked him whether he felt this new venture might take him further away from God or closer to him.
For the next two hours – until 2 a.m. – we talked about the things of God. He said later that he only consented to do this because I had listened to him for two hours already. I shared with him the good news about Jesus – that while he and I were sinners before a holy God, and only worthy of death, Jesus had come to take our punishment upon himself and free us from judgment so that we might live for God.
It took him a week to think about these things, and seven days later he called me at the supper hour. “What can I do be born again?” he asked me. That was an easy matter. We prayed over the telephone, confessing his belief in Christ, his desire to turn from his old way of life, pleading that he might be forgiven, and begging God to come into his life. As with all sincere requests of that nature, God heard his prayer and did as He was asked. The young man became a Christian.
He was a drug addict at the time. He had been addicted to heroin for about 14 years or so. He had fallen in with the wrong crowd in high school, taking up drinking and drugs, and had continued on with it all those years. Now as a Christian man his life began to change.
One day, though, about six months after he had believed, he had an urge that he could not dismiss. He went downtown (he lived in Calgary), found a dealer, bought some of the stuff, and began to shoot up. To his surprise and anger, nothing happened. He thought he had been cheated. But no – the drug was not at fault. Something else had happened in his life, and the “high” that he had known simply had no more effect on him.
His life before knowing Jesus had been one of accumulating “toys.” He had a very fast sports car, a great home entertainment system, all the gadgetry that one could ask for. But once he was a Christian the appeal for those things simply dissolved in his life. They no longer interested him.
Another thing about his life – he could barely read. That was one of the reasons for his previous drug habit; his lack of reading ability gave him a very low self-esteem. He could not read a newspaper article with any understanding at all.
One day, about a week after he had become a Christian, I called him up and asked him how he was doing. “Oh, really great!” he said. It was a Sunday when I called him, so I asked him what he done on Friday, as I knew that particular evening would present its own challenges for him. “Well,” he replied, “since it was Friday I thought I should do something cool. So I got my Bible and started reading the Book of Revelation.” I was dumbfounded, and let him know it. How could he do that when his reading level was so low? He could not explain it. He just knew that when he picked up the Bible he could read with comprehension, but with other things there was no understanding. (I should report that today he can read anything he pleases.)
Some folks think that they somehow need to “get cleaned up” or become better somehow before they become Christians. My friend – and many millions just like him – shows that Jesus came precisely because we cannot clean ourselves up. He himself makes us a new creation, and this is the gift of God to us.
The Pipestone Flyer has invited pastors and reverends from local churches to write a regular column for the paper.