Remember, repent, and live for Christ.
(Revelation 2:5, paraphrase)
Christmas is over, but I’m still celebrating Jesus, God’s Son. When I fall, He lifts me up. When I fail, He forgives me. When I am weak, He is strong. When I am lost, He is the way. When I am afraid, He is my courage. What a Savior!
A Healed Pastor
William Hunter (1811-1877) was an Irish pastor. He was healed by Christ and wrote the hymn, “The Great Physician.” Hunter knew we can call on Jesus for repeated help and his hymn helps us do that. It begins like this:
The great Physician now is near, The sympathizing Jesus;
He speaks the drooping heart to cheer; O hear the voice of Jesus.
Sweetest note in seraph song, Sweetest name on mortal tongue,
Sweetest carol ever sung, Jesus, blessed Jesus.
Another Man’s Conversion
In The Testament (1999), novelist John Grisham describes one man’s surrender to Christ. Nate O’Reilly is a high-powered corporate litigator who wrestles with alcoholism and drug abuse. He went through four detox programs, crashing harder every time. Nate is a workaholic whose imbalance and bad habits ruined two marriages and he had children with each wife. His employer sends him on assignment to Brazil’s tropical wetlands and Nate contracts dengue fever, an acute viral infection caused by mosquito bites. The disease was called “break-bone” fever, because severe joint and muscle pain make it feel like your bones are cracking. It causes high fever, gnawing pain, shaking chills, vomiting, and extreme exhaustion.
When Nate hits bottom, he surrenders to Jesus. The Living Lord makes him a new person from inside out. Nate goes to a church and has real dealings with Christ for the first time in his life. With both hands, he grabs the chair in front of him and confesses his long catalog of sins. He admits them all to God–every weakness, flaw, and evil that plagues him. Nate holds nothing back, admitting how he failed God and other people. Nate confesses enough burdens to crush three people and when he finally finishes, he whispers, “Lord Jesus, I am sorry. Please, help me.
Immediately Nate feels the fever leave his body. And he feels the spiritual baggage leave his soul. It is as if, with one brush of mercy, the Savior wipes Nate’s slate clean. He breathes a massive sigh of relief, but his pulse is still racing.
Jesus Still Heals and Transforms
Grisham’s story is modern fiction. But he describes what the Lord Jesus really did when He was here on earth 2000 years ago. And what Christ still does now by the Holy Spirit around the world. Luke the medical doctor recorded a true story where Christ showed Himself to be the Physician of Souls who makes house calls and reaches out to repenting sinners.
Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said, and Levi got up, left everything, and followed Him. Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were present. But the Pharisees and the teachers complained, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” Jesus answered, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:27-32)
Notice, Christ comes to save, cleanse, and salvage imperfect people who need what Jesus alone can provide.
Actor Jim Carrey said that everybody should get rich and famous, doing everything they ever dreamed of, so they can see that outward success is not the answer. Levi had everything money could buy, like Jim Carrey and Nate O’Reilly. But Levi was spiritually lost and empty until Jesus rescued him. Christ says that sick people need a medical doctor and emergency rooms are filled with hurting people. People must admit their need and come for help. Likewise Jesus’ church is a hospital for repenting and believing sinners, not a museum for studying ancient curiosities. Admitting our need for Christ is our first step toward spiritual healing. Are you ready to do that?
We Must Share Jesus With Others
I love seeing how Christ transformed Levi the Cheat into Matthew, the Gospel writer and missionary to Ethiopia. Notice that Levi wants Jesus’ salvation for his friends also. Since Christ loves and has compassion for Levi, Levi now loves and has compassion for others. He understands the essence of Christianity. We are blessed by the Lord to be a blessing to others. Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed (Proverbs 11:25). We must never hog Jesus’ blessings for ourselves, but pass them on to as many people as possible. No true Christian wants to go to Heaven alone!
We don’t evangelize because it is pleasant or easy or because we may be successful. But because Jesus has called us to do it. He is our Lord. We have no other choice but to trust and obey Him. (Leighton Ford)
With gratefulness to God, let us commit ourselves to sharing Christ’s good news in word and deed all year long.
Note: I’ve adapted and expanded John Grisham’s story.