The power of a homely testimony

Ben Reed —  January 5, 2012 — 21 Comments
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image credit: Creation Swap User Rob Gros

I grew up in a Christian home. My parents were, and still are, amazingly solid followers of Jesus. I look to them and, when I grow up, want to

  • Have a marriage like theirs
  • Follow Jesus like they do
  • Lead like they do
  • Find wisdom like they’ve found

They did a great job pointing me to Jesus and, at the ripe age of 6, I began following Him. I didn’t understand it all. But I understood enough to know that, without Jesus, I didn’t have a relationship with God. And I desperately wanted a relationship with Him!

So my journey began.

As I got into high school, I started hearing “those testimonies.” You know which ones I’m talking about. The radical conversions. The “I was a drug addict when I walked in tonight, and now I follow Jesus and I don’t even want for those drugs anymore.” The “I slept with every guy I looked at for 5 years…and now I love Jesus.”

Part of me, the sinful part of me for sure, wished I had a testimony like that. I mean, come on…I began following Jesus when I was 6. What kind of serious trouble can I get in by then? If I’d waited a few years, say, at least 10, maybe I could’ve added a bit of flair to my testimony. I wish I had a cool story. For a few reasons:

1. I bet they had a crazy amount of fun. Sure, it was empty. Sure, it didn’t ultimately satisfy. But dang, they had a good time doing it! (I know…don’t judge me. You’ve had those thoughts too). I know Christians can, and should, have fun, but…

2. They can look back on their life and assuredly say, “I’m different now that I follow Jesus.” From drugs to hugs. From passionate love with the opposite sex…to passionately following Jesus. From fights with classmates to fights with the devil. From…ok, I’ll stop. You get the picture.

That second reason really hung over me. And if I can be honest, some days it still tries to hook me in. “You’re not really different” I hear whispered. “What has Jesus really done in your life?” is shot my way. “Are you sure you’re following Jesus?” enters my doubt.

If I only had a sexy testimony!

The homely testimony

But wait. My testimony is sexy. It is radical. It is powerful.

Once I was lost, and now I’m found. Once I was an enemy, and now I’m a son. Once I was bent against God, and now He’s my friend. Once I was pointing towards an eternity apart from Jesus, and now eternity with Him has begun.

The radical part of anyone’s salvation isn’t the “sin” part. It’s not in highlighting the depth of depravity that the human soul can dive. It’s in highlighting the love of a beautiful King who’s kind enough to save a sinner like me. It’s in pointing people to a God who rescues the powerless. Pointing people to a God who is gracious enough to save someone who, at the age of 6, doesn’t even fully grasp the depth of His love. Someone who, at the age of 6, has no idea what life holds and how grace will be such a powerful part of it.

A word to the doubters

I share this because I know I’m not the only one who has doubts. I’m not the only one who doesn’t have a radical conversion story. I’m not the only one who has sinned more after I began following Jesus than before.

And I’m not the only one who needs a reminder that salvation is about highlighting the love of a good King whose willing and able to rescue.

Question:

Ever doubted?

*image credit: creation swap user Rob Gros

 

 

 

 

Ben Reed

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Christ follower, husband, father, writer, small groups pastor at Saddleback Community Church. Communications director for the Small Group Network.
  • http://twitter.com/_ThomasMason Thomas Mason

    I, too, have seen and heard all the incredible conversions of people and have secretly wished I had a major life transformation to brag about. I asked Jesus into my heart at a young age (12), had a godly mother, and hadn’t before got into any trouble…that came later in life. When I consider sharing my story, I would like to have a true rags to riches tale, but I don’t. I’m kind of plain and boring. Yet I’ve never considered that I have a “homely” testimony to brag about. Thanks for giving me a fresh perspective!

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Thankfully, God saved you from much pain! Glad to hear that my story breathed a bit of life into yours.

      • Qabugfinder

        The best part of the story for me was….regardless of which story side we are on….let the focus of our testimony be on His glory.

  • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com/ jonstolpe

    Great post!  I feel like you wrote my story.  I have learned to be thankful for the blessing of growing up in a Christian home, of following Christ at an early age, and of living a fairly “boring” life.

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      I pray that my son can have a similar testimony as he grows up.

  • http://www.arnyslight.wordpress.com/ Arny

    Yup… been there…done that…

    I grew up in a christian home…i don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I didn’t have sex till i was married…

    the devil has a way of trying to spin that in your head as…dang…you are a boring christian…who is gonna listen to you when you got nothing to say…

    I’m I’m like SHUT UP!

    He saved me from a that kind of life…I believe with all my heart he keeps me saved from desiring that kind of life…

    I have my own sin that HE Dealt with at the cross…that i still struggle with…
    we all have our little secrets…

    But HE is Faithful and Amazing to save!

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      And the Devil is really good at spinning our blessings and causing them to seem almost like curses that drive us to doubt, isn’t he?!?

      Keep reminding yourself that God is faithful and good and kind!

  • http://twitter.com/noelbagwell Noel Bagwell

    In God’s eyes, there are no “big” or “little” sins. No one testimony is more powerful than any other, because we are all saved by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8-9) The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23) That means all sin – not just the ones that we think are relatively worse. Whether your only sin is a single white lie, or whether you were a cult leader / rapist / murderer, unless you are redeemed, the penalty is the same – eternal separation from God.

    The power of our testimony does not spring from how far we have come in our personal, physical lives (in other words, how much personal “character building” progress we have made); rather the power of our testimony comes from how far Jesus went to redeem us all. The focus of our testimony should always be on Christ, never on ourselves.

    “So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10 HCSB) When we are diminished, Christ is increased; that is the power of humility.

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Amen!!

  • Crossroads Community Church

    As one with a dramatic story of conversion, can I just say that YOUR story is the one I want for my kids?  To me, there is no more powerful story than “my Mom and Dad followed Christ, serving Him every day. They shared Him with me when I was little, and now I follow Him too…”  Glorious!

    God rescued me at age 28 from a life marked by fear, alcoholism and addiction. He healed my hopeless marriage, and has used my hurts and mistakes to help others. But I have thought many times how wonderful it would have been to have a story like yours.  A life lived for Christ from a tender age is a VERY powerful testimony indeed…

    Leslie Oden

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Yep, it’s the one I want for my son, too!

    • Qabugfinder

      I agree……I am sometimes regretful, that your story is not the one my kids received from me.

  • http://thomasmarkzuniga.com TMZ

    Have been here countless times before, having been raised in a Christian home and in the church, never having “strayed” too far.

    “My testimony is sexy” – a unique and powerful line. Striving to remember this and take confidence in this.

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Me, too!

  • http://www.lifeofasteward.com/ Loren Pinilis

    This is good stuff. I’ve struggled with the same insecurity over my testimony and have been envious, in a way, of those who have had dramatic transformations. But the eyes of man don’t see like the eyes of God, and I know that in his eyes I was deplorably wicked.

  • http://www.mustardseedyear.com/ Jason Wert

    Sometimes doubt is my middle name. :)  Great post man.  As someone with a cool testimony, I’m always happy to hear the homely ones.  Makes me wish I had it that easy. :)

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence…but it still has to be cut. :)

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  • Qabugfinder

    Wow. Great story! Thank u.

  • http://tinyurl.com/2wp4a68 Philip Verghese Ariel

    Hi Ben,
    Nice to hear about your sweet and sexy!!! testimony,
    I am here via John’s Ramblings, yes, your Interview
    with him, Good to meet you and John
    Keep up the good work
    I am sorry to note that here there is no followers button
    except the facebook one, please provide one so that
    others those who are not having account at fb can join in
    Keep inform
    Best Regards
    Philip