JESUS CHANGES LIVES
It’s One of His Specialties
by Eric Elder
The great evangelist H.A. Ironside was interrupted one time by the shouts of an atheist. The atheist yelled, “There is no God!” “Jesus is a myth!” and finally, “I challenge you to a debate!”
Ironside responded, “I accept your challenge, sir! But on one condition. When you come, bring with you ten men and women whose lives have been changed for the better by the message of atheism. Bring former prostitutes and criminals whose lives have been changed, who are now moral and responsible individuals. Bring outcasts who had no hope and have them tell us how becoming atheists has lifted them out of the pit!”
“And sir,” Ironside concluded, “if you can find ten such men and woman, I will be happy to debate you. And when I come, I will gladly bring with me two hundred men and women from this very city whose lives have been transformed in just those ways by the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Ironside knew that atheism doesn’t change lives. Jesus changes lives. It’s one of His specialties.
If you’re a Christian, your testimony is like gold. The story of how you came to Christ, how He forgave you of your sins and how He gave you the assurance that you will live with Him forever will speak volumes to those around you.
You may not consider yourself a great evangelist. You may not feel like there’s much in your life that others would want to emulate. But the truth is that when others see your changed life, it can lead them to put their faith in Christ.
I’m hosting a retreat here at Clover Ranch in a few weeks where people will be sharing their testimonies of how God has worked powerfully in their lives, changing the trajectories of their lives for the better in a multitude of ways. I’m looking forward to hearing what they have to say because hearing someone’s testimony always gives me a boost in my own faith. (If you want to come, click here to learn more and join us! It’s free!)
The apostle Paul knew the power of a testimony, too. He shared his on many occasions, one of which is recorded in the book of Acts, chapter 26, when Paul was on trial in front of a governor and a king. After hearing Paul’s story, the king said to Paul:
“Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”
Paul replied, “Short time or long–I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains” (Acts 26:28-29).
Paul didn’t claim to be perfect. But he did claim to be changed. He claimed he had had an encounter with the Risen Lord, Jesus Christ, who had transformed his life. Then Paul prayed that all who were listening would become what he was.
Several years ago, I had a friend who was living a life that I knew could kill him. I knew it could kill him because I had lived a similar life–until I put my faith in Christ. I knew I wasn’t perfect, but I knew I was changed. So I prayed with my friend that he would become what I had become: a sold-out follower of Jesus Christ. I prayed that he would follow my example, as I tried to follow Christ’s. It’s exactly what the apostle Paul called others to do:
“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
It’s not being prideful to ask people to become what you’ve become. It’s simply being faithful.
Faith models. Just like a fashion model wears cool clothes to show others how their lived might be transformed if they put on the same thing, a Christian shows others how their lives might be transformed if they put their faith in Christ.
An athlete once told his friend he didn’t want to be a role model. His friend replied:
“It’s not a matter of whether you want to be a role model or not. You are a role model. The question is whether you’re going to be a good role model or a bad one.”
You’re already a role model, too, whether you’re a Christian or not. If you’re a Christian, God wants you to model your faith, to let others see your faith at work in your life, to let them hear it from your lips–that Christ has truly forgiven you, changed you and given you the assurance that you’ll live with Him forever.
If you’re not a Christian, my prayer for you is the same as Paul’s:
“…that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am.”
If you need encouragement that God is still in the life-changing business today–or encouragement about how God can use your testimony for good, too–you might want to get a copy of my new book, Fifty Shades of Grace, in which I share how God has thoroughly transformed my life, both inside and out.
I’ll be sharing more about the book and about my testimony at our retreat here in Illinois in a few weeks. To learn more about the retreat or to get a copy of the book, please use the links below.
Father, thank You for Your life-transforming power that is available to every one of us. Help us to take hold of that power, through the gift You’ve given us in Your Son, Jesus Christ. Fill us anew with Your Holy Spirit today so we can be the best role models we can be. In Jesus’ name, Amen.