Thursday, January 19, 2012

CP 159 A provocative story from Keith Miller

One evening several years ago I was taking a young friend out to dinner. He had just graduated from the university and was going off to enter the Christian ministry the next day. John was one of those fine, clean young men who somehow get through college without scar or blemish from the world. I found him hard to believe, but he was evidently sincere. We had eaten in a cafeteria and were talking about his future when a good-looking young woman sauntered up to our table in a pair of very short shorts, sandals, and one of those brief halter type tops. She was followed by a tiny daughter in a similar outfit. I recognized the woman as a member of the Sunday school class I taught. The class was rather large, and I had seen her only as a member of an audience. A few times I had spoken to her briefly before or after class, but I had definitely noticed her.
Somehow at the cafeteria, however, she looked very "un-Sunday schooly." I introduced her to my young friend as a fellow member of the same Sunday school class, and asked if she would like to join us. She did, and said at once, "There is something I've been wanting to talk to you about for months."
"What's that?"
"Paul, I think he was a sex deviate:'
My young friend's eyes were protruding slightly in horror, and I sort of wished I had not asked.
"Paul who?" I asked, smiling weakly.
She laughed, "You know who I mean, Paul the Apostle."
So we began to talk about Paul's views concerning women and sex. After about 40 minutes it was apparent that Paul was not the problem she wanted to talk about, and I told her so.
Her whole attitude changed. She said almost wistfully, "I really believe you've found hope in your faith, and I would honestly like to make this beginning commitment of my life to Christ... but I can't do it."
"Why not?" I asked gently.
"Because I've got a personal problem that I can't seem to resolve."
She was biting her lips and looking down at a paper napkin she had folded into a small bulky square.
"But that's why Christianity is called 'good news,' "I said, coming on strong. "We can't solve our own basic hang-ups and separations, and God is offering through the Holy Spirit to furnish us the motivating power to cope with the seemingly impossible situations in life. That's why I'm such a nut about Christianity. I can't promise to change anything. All I can do is to accept His love and grace."
"But," and she hesitated. .."I don't feel acceptable until I whip this problem."
"Listen, Susan, the old song doesn't say, 'Just as I am when I whip
my major problem.' It says, 'Just as I am without one plea,' one problem, one guarantee."
She looked at me with the strangest dawning look of hope. "Do you really believe that?" she said.
"I'd bet my life on it."
She looked down at her hands for several minutes. " All right," she
said, almost as a challenge, "I'm committing adultery every Thursday night with a man who has a wife and several young children. And I cannot quit. Now can I come into your Christian family?"
I just looked at her. I certainly had not expected that. My first conditioned reaction as a Christian churchman would have been to think she is not ready for Christ, or to say something like, "Baby, don't you think you could at least cut down a little?"
Suddenly I realized how phony we Christians are. Of course we would expect her to quit committing adultery. We don't mean, "just as I am without one plea." We actually mean, "Just as I am when I promise implicitly to straighten up and quit my major sins." And this girl had nailed me with her honesty. She had heard the real intent of our church's congregational invitation and knew she did not have the strength to meet its requirements-to quit her "sinning." And yet it was her weakness which had brought her toward Christ in the first place.
I thought about Jesus and what He would have done. Then I looked up at her, "Of course, you can commit your life to Christ just as you are," I smiled. "He knows you want to quit seeing this man, and I don't know where else you can ever hope to find the security and strength to break up with him. So if you commit your life to Christ right now, then Thursday night, if you find you can't help meeting your friend, take Christ with you in your conscious mind through the whole evening. Ask Him to give you the desire and the strength to break off the relationship."
And she stepped across the stream and became a Christian.
Keith Miller. Habitation of Dragons. pp. 69- 71


Anonymous Robert Voigt said...

What's controversial about this story? There can be no motivation to repent & change until we know Jesus as our Saviour & Lord. The church (people) has usually wanted respectability before confession of faith. I've been guilty of demanding that of others too.

2:42 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home