Chris Crossed: Sinners, Wild & Mild

I met a man named Chris at a local restaurant. Chris shared with me his personal testimony about how he became a Christian. His message was open, honest, and consisted of three simple parts. He told me how he needed to admit his sin. He told me how he needed to admit his need for Christ's forgiveness. And he told me how much Christ's love had changed his life. I listened with excitement and anticipation as the events of his life unfolded. Yet, I must admit that I was a little shocked at some of the things in which he had been involved. Chris related to me how wild he was before he was saved.

I felt some resentment that I have tried to do the "right things" most of my life, while he had done all the "wrong things" and still found favor with God and the church. I felt some fear that a person with his background might be a bad influence on me (or our church) and could possibly take advantage of us. I even felt just a trace of hate. His reckless living represented those people from my past who had hurt me deliberately through direct action against me. And he also reminded me how sinful people may indirectly hurt me by making this world a more hazardous place to live.

After Chris had talked about his own life, he made a comparison of how people from different backgrounds are saved and how they face life. He mentioned how I had good parents and how I had a more stable background than he did. I thought he was going to tell me that I had it easier than he did, because it would appear to the world that I had more advantages than he did. But he did just the opposite.

He told me that when wild people like him fight their spiritual battles, their struggles are external where everyone can see them. But when mild people like me fight their spiritual battles, their struggles are internal where no one can see them. Everyone, whether wild or mild, comes to a point in his life when he must face spiritual conflict, and in so doing, either receives or denies salvation. I felt a great sense of relief, and the beginning of long overdue healing. It did not matter to me if all my spiritual conflicts were resolved right at that moment. It was enough to know that someone understood me.

As a Christian, I have the Holy Spirit living in me. However, people often misinterpret the strength of the Holy Spirit within me as being my own strength. So they do not take me seriously when I say I need help. They think I am too strong to need anyone's help. It's not that I would not accept anyone's help. It's that no one would offer me help, since I exhibit no evidence of dramatic external struggles. Chris understood that, although people may express their faith differently and may send out different "signals" to others, everyone needs a helping hand now and then.

Looking back, I can see that there were times when people would have helped me. And there were times when I would have accepted their help. But "their time" and "my time" never seemed to coincide. Maybe I just needed to be patient while waiting for "God's time". The Lord works in mysterious ways. I was sitting there tearing Chris apart in my mind. And then Chris gave me a helping hand. He gave me a gift for which I had waited almost twenty years. I did not deserve his gift. But he gave it to me anyway. I cannot think of a better example of Christ's love. We do not deserve Christ's love. But He gives it to us anyway.

We feel comfortable with things the way they are at our church. We are settled in. When I considered the resentment, fear, and hatred that a person with a wild background like Chris' could stir up in our congregation, I questioned whether we can afford to open our doors to such sinners. But then I considered how Chris had met a need in my life that none of the stable, "life-timers" at church had been able to meet. That is when I realized that we cannot afford to deprive ourselves of the spiritual contributions that those wild sinners can bring to our congregation.

Paul was a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man. (1 Tim 1:13) But the law, the church, and even our church are not just for the saints. Our church is for the sinners. (1 Tim 1:8-11) For sinners like me. For sinners like you. And, yes, even for wild sinners like Chris. So instead of running from Chris in ignorant fear, I would like to thank him for reminding us all of an important lesson. Just like Chris, we need to admit our sin. Just like Chris, we need to admit our need for Christ's forgiveness. And just like Chris, we need to tell others how much Christ's love has changed our lives.

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