Monday, December 8, 2008

Simply Jesus

I've always admired the "good news" of Jesus for its simplicity. I once heard a story about a Buddhist healer who was engaged in deep conversation with a friend over the differences between his beliefs and those of Christianity. The Buddhist healer remarked, "The path of Buddhism is a very, very difficult path; the journey towards enlightenment is very difficult, and even those who struggle rarely obtain enlightenment," then he moved to Jesus, "Christianity is like cheating: You give your life to Jesus and He instantly takes you to enlightenment." The "good news" of Jesus is simply that every person on this harsh planet has a shot at hope and true life. The CEO working on the top floor of his building, the philosopher who lectures at Stanford, and the bum on the street corner who can hardly remember his name; they all have a chance to be enlightened. 

I myself was enlightened by the "light of the world" when I was 15 years old. A friend of mine invited me to a small, unassuming church in the middle of our town. The preacher, his father, was not eloquent in his speech or presentation of the gospel message. "Preacher," as his congregation called him, was a short man who sometimes forgot what he wanted to say and told jokes that were most likely passed along via email forward. Nevertheless, what Preacher lacked in elegance he made up for with substance. He had a simple story to tell, one that included God, man, and a rescue mission. Preacher himself had been rescued from a life of alcohol abuse and selfishness. His message was laced with his failures so he could emphasize God's victory in brining a dying man to new life.

I cannot begin to tell you how many lives Preacher touched with the simple message of Jesus. His congregation was small, but it boasted lives that had been wrecked and rebuilt, and then sometimes wrecked again. Divorcees, widowers, blue-collar workers, and single moms were easy to find in the Friendswood Baptist Church. The respect Preacher had amongst society's outsiders was clearest when Preacher became sick with cancer and the congregation was invited to pray over him. As Preacher kneeled in the center of his church and the hands of those who had been touched by his message were now touching him, a young boy with Down's Syndrome hit his knees to hug Preacher. The child had a bold love for his Preacher, who probably preached more than once about the Kingdom of Heaven belonging to those who are sick and weak. The Kingdom of Heaven was on display that morning as Preacher was hugged and touched by those whom this world had refused to embrace.  

Preacher passed on from this life yesterday afternoon, around 1:30pm. I don't have enough words and you don't have enough time to communicate and understand how powerfully God was displayed in this man's life. Even yesterday, when I went over to McCauley's house to grieve the loss of his father, Preacher's wife was quick to give glory to God. I told her that I wouldn't be the man I am today if it weren't for Preacher. Preacher's wife, Faith, grabbed my arm and said, "That was the Lord." God has been made real to me through the life of a Preacher who carried a simple message of hope. My prayer for you who read this is that you would simply look to Jesus for true life, hope, and peace. 


In Process said...

John, thank you for honoring my father, and more honoring our Father. I am truly overwhelmed by the amount of people who were touched by God through my dad. I always felt that my dad thought way too little of the abilities God had graced him with. As I think of your words, and recollect on my father's life/ministry I am positive that it was his thought of himself as nothing that made the message of His God so powerful. We all knew that he wasn't preaching a message, but that he was preaching his message, the message he needed and lived by. I am so proud that you honor my father, may we go on to honor our Father as a testimony of the life He pulled out of sin and selfishness so many years ago, the life that he took out of this world of pain and torment just yesterday.

Shannon said...

Very, very powerful, John. What a tribute to this man and even more so the God and LORD who does all things well. I praise God with you for Preacher and thank you for writing about him. Surely his life pointed many, and now me, to his precious Savior.