The young dad, not yet in his mid-30s, sat unsuspectingly in the church pew on that Sunday morning, unaware that the course of his life was about to change.
These days, you might think a gun was involved. But there wasn’t.
Instead, there was a sword.
On that summer Sunday in 1994, the pastor pulled out the sword. The sword he chose was a passage in the book of John. He began to read:
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide me. — John 15:4
Then the pastor pointed the shining, two-edged sword at the young father.
“How do you abide? What does that mean? It means you live in Him. Build your house there. Move in, change your address, invite friends and family over for dinner!”
There’s a reason Hebrews 4:12 describes the Word of God as a double-edged sword. By now, the young dad was pinned to the floor.
The onslaught continued. “Listen to Christian music! Read biographies of the giants of the faith! There are excellent books about living for Christ, read them! Watch movies and TV shows that glorify Jesus!”
The young dad’s heart raced. How could this pastor have known every question that he had about how to live out his faith? He had shared his heart with no one. At that very moment, the dad realized that he’d been living as a powerless Christian, putting God and Jesus in a box that was opened only on Sundays.
How could it be so simple? And yet make so much sense?
That was the day everything changed for me. My CD collection (it was the 90s, right?) changed from Elton John and Billy Joel to Stephen Curtis Chapman and Phillips, Craig and Dean. I wasn’t much of a reader, but in addition more intentional Bible reading, I started reading about Jim Elliott, the missionary killed while trying to reach the Huaorani people in South America, Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, and the leadership secrets of Billy Graham. The movies we rented at Blockbuster were different, too. Everything.
It largely contines to this day, more than 25 years later. I’m not perfect, and the culture of our age often creeps in (for example, I’m a huge Star Wars fan, as discussed in this earlier post). But that day, in the summer of 1994, was the day I started to better understand how to live for Christ and in Christ, and not just allow him into my life one hour each week.
And all because our pastor chose the sword of John 15:4. He deftly used that sword to cut a hole in my heart, and Jesus put something there that wasn’t there before.
Because of that day, I now claim John 15:4 as my life verse.
Tomorrow: When You Just Know: Ecclesiastes 3:11