Summary: Emphasizes the importance of making a decision for Christ wholeheartedly.
GETTING OFF THE FENCE
A week ago yesterday, I had the opportunity to perform the wedding ceremony for an old high school friend of mine. After the wedding, I went to the reception and visited with some other old friends. Sitting around the table, telling stories from the old days, the parents of an old classmate said, “Gene, we thought you were always a good guy.”
Like many of you, I grew up in church. I was in church before I knew I was in church. As a child, I invited Jesus into my heart when I was 6 years old, and was baptized at Francis Baptist Church in Palatka shortly thereafter.
My Dad came from an active, church attending family, and largely through the work of my grandfather, by the time I was ½ way through elementary school, I had memorized a number of Bible verses and the books of the Bible. I grew up attending numerous Christian conferences, retreats and conventions. In 7th grade, I participated in Campus Crusade for Christ’s “I Found It” campaign, going around to different churches, teaching people how to share their faith using the 4-Spiritual Laws booklet.
For a number of years, my parents led the youth or were active in the youth group of our church. My dad was a deacon and my mom has always taught Sunday School. We used to regularly have preachers over for meals and one of our former pastors came and helped when we built our barn which is now the church’s pavilion.
I say all of this to say, I grew up knowing about God. I grew up knowing the difference between right and wrong. I grew up knowing the Bible, but I had never reached the point in my life when I had consciously decided that Jesus was going to be the Boss, regardless.
When I was 19 years old, a friend and I, after finishing SCC, moved to Monroe, Louisiana to attend college. When we moved there we didn’t know anybody else in town. He taught me to play tennis that first semester, because we didn’t know anybody. The guys in the room next to us invited us to attend their church, Temple Baptist Church, and we did.
Now let me tell you. That Baptist church was not like any Baptist church I had ever attended before. It was a Southern Baptist Church, just like I grew up in, but those people played choruses in addition to playing hymns. Those people often raised their hands when they sang. I said, “Don’t these people know we’re Baptists? Baptists don’t do that.” But I digress.
Within a few months of attending that church, my roommate and I ran into a problem. You see, he was pretty much like I was. We were friends most of our lives. We grew up together. We pretty much lived alike as well. He and I both knew how the game was played. On Sundays we would live and act one way. The seniors at church wanted to believe the best about us, so we put on an act. During the rest of the week we lived the way we wanted to.
Now, back to our problem. You see, we were getting active in church. This time we were active because we wanted to be, not because our parents wanted us to. To make matters worse, the Lord was working in both of our lives. At the same time the Lord was working on us and we were attending church, we were still living in the world. Let me tell you my friend. That is a miserable way to live. We had enough of the world in us that we weren’t happy in church and enough of the Lord in us that we weren’t happy in the world. Finally, things came to a head and we had to make a choice. Was Jesus going to be the Boss in our lives, or wasn’t He? Were we going to let go of Christ and run hog wild in the world, or were we going to let go of the world and let Jesus be all we claimed He was?
I don’t need to tell you that I have made many mistakes since then. I have gone through weak times, but I praise the Lord that on that day, through His prompting and drawing, and in answer to many people’s prayers, I decided to make Jesus the Boss in my life.
I am only in my early 40’s, but I tell you today, without reservation or condition, that was the smartest and best decision I have ever made. Fortunately, you do not have to take my word for it. There are others who have walked with God much longer than I, who will give you the same testimony.