There once was a mean old man named Jim. After years of resisting for one reason or another, he finally asked Jesus into his heart. To hear him tell it, he “got saved,” and his heart melted into something God could use. A diamond in the rough, Jim didn’t know a lot about the Bible or how Christians were supposed to act, but he loved Jesus and began to tell others about him.
His passion for the lost was contagious, inspiring, but his vocabulary was a bit of a problem. Having been raised on the farm by a non-Christian father with a penchant for vulgar slang, Jim used words that others found offensive, even when sharing the Gospel. To him, “hell” was both a place and a favorite interjection. “Holy” was an adjective to be coupled with very unholy nouns.
Unwilling to discourage the old man and wanting to show proper respect to his elders, Jim’s young pastor didn’t know how to handle the problem, so he prayed and encouraged the old man to read his Bible. Excited to learn more about “God and Jesus and all,” Jim did as he was asked, and a funny thing happened. The Holy Spirit began to smooth away the old man’s rough edges. Word by word, habit by habit, attitude by attitude, remnants of the old Jim fell away, revealing a humble heart that glowed with love for his Savior. Gradually, “hell” was just a place, and only God was “holy.”
The transformation was stunning, an undeniable miracle, and even those who had been skeptical, those who had known Jim since his ornery youth, had no choice but to acknowledge that something supernatural had happened in his life. Nothing of the hardened old man they’d once known remained, and they began to wonder what it all had to do with them.
No matter what they did to bait him, tell the jokes that used to split his sides, offer him the liquor that used to lay him low, or cuss the wife that left him years ago with good reason, Jim stood strong, and they grew nervous. It’s one thing to turn a deaf ear to slicked up, shiny, Jesus-dipped folks that smile and raise their hands on Sunday and then succumb to the same vices you do the rest of the week; it’s another thing, a much more difficult thing, to ignore the gentle words of a man who has truly found contentment in Jesus, words that your heart knows are true.
How in the world does a person argue with a testimony like that?
“Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Romans 12:1-2a