Pastor Jones was sitting in his office, one Monday morning, trying to get over the previous weekend. Two services in the morning and one in the evening, with guests for lunch really takes it out of a guy. At about half past ten, Pastor Jones’ secretary buzzed him with a message that George wanted to know if he had time to visit. “Thank you,” Pastor Jones said, “send him in.”
“Hi, George, what can I help you with?” Pastor Jones began.
“How much time do you have?” began George. “I really have a problem and I need your help.”
Pastor Jones, said, “I’ve cleared the decks for the whole day. So, you’re good to go with whatever you have in mind. But, before we begin, do you mind if I pray for our conversation?” George nodded and so Pastor Jones began, “Father, in Heaven, please be glorified by our conversation. I don’t know what George has in mind, but I can see that he is very bothered by his situation. Please give me wisdom and boldness to help George with whatever you have for me, and bless us as we continue. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
After Pastor Jones gave him a nod, George began.
“I am the oldest child of six children born into a family with a quiet shy father and a pretty loud and outgoing mother. I thought growing up that my family was a pretty normal family, until I got into high school when I noticed that my mother and father didn’t really get along all that well. They didn’t argue in front of us children, but there was always an air in the room of unrest and anger looming over us all. I realized that we were an angry family.”
“Shortly after HS graduation, my parents suddenly announced that they were getting a divorce. I was devastated. My life, I suddenly realized, was a sham. What I thought was a perfect life, was all a lie. My parents had lied to me and my siblings. Nothing was as we thought it was. I was lost.”
My dorm roommate was rushing a fraternity and I thought that might be fun too so I went with him to the meetings. They liked me and I was accepted into the Omega Phi fraternity. After that, my life revolved around parties, women, alcohol, an occasional meeting with various kinds of dope—oh, and I did a bit of studying along the way…just enough to graduate in business administration.
During my senior year in college, I met a fellow named Fred, Fred was a bit different, but he was very smart and helped me get through my classes when I was hung over or simply exhausted. The difference in Fred, I found out, was that he was a Christian. He went to church and Bible study, and was a member of a campus group called CRUX. I went with him a few times and actually enjoyed myself. After a few months, I decided that I wanted what he wanted, so at church one day, I went “forward” and invited Jesus into my heart. The Pastor Jones told me I was saved and needed to be baptized, so I went back to church that night and was baptized during the Sunday evening worship service.
Life was glorious. From then on, until about four years ago, I went to church every time the doors were open. I loved God, the people, the worship, the songs, the sermons, and everything about Christianity.
“Let me interject here,” said Pastor Jones, “what happened four years ago?”
“I’m getting to that, I’m sorry to wander along, but I am getting to that,” said George.
“Okay, so I’m plugged into the church, just graduated from college, stopped partying, cussing, hanging with women, not doing drugs anymore, etc. Fred and I decide to move in together as roommates to share costs. He and I found work at the same company, doing different, but related jobs. Life was really great.
“Then, one day, Fred went on a business trip and met a woman named Gloria. He showed me a picture of her and I thought she was pretty. He said he met her at a church he had found on the trip and had impressed him with her love of Jesus and the way she seemed to incorporate her faith with her work. I was just as impressed with her as he was.
“Over the next year or so, Fred continued to make trips to see Gloria. He talked about her all the time and invited her to visit us a couple of times. When I met her in person, I understood what he saw in her. She was really pretty, smart, friendly, not pushy, and genuinely loved the Lord.
“After the second visit, Fred began asking what I thought about him marrying Gloria. I thought, if he doesn’t marry her, I’m going to go for it. But what I said was, sure, she seems like a nice girl, why not? So, he asked her to marry him. And she said yes.
“Then it hit me that my life was going to change. I was going to have to move out. I was probably going to lose my best friend. Life was going to be drastically different. I agreed to be Fred’s best man, but my heart began to withdraw from his friendship. I told myself I wanted things to go smoothly and not have a huge drop all at once.
“I could tell Fred knew something was wrong because every once in a while he would ask me if everything was alright. I knew he didn’t really care. He was in love and Gloria was in his thoughts every waking moment. So I told him all was well, and he believed me and ran off to buy flowers or something.
“Okay, here’s why I came to you. I’ve done terrible things since that time. After Fred and Gloria’s wedding, I began drinking again. I even went to a prostitute and I’ve smoked some dope. For the past year, I’ve been a basket case. Fred and Gloria have reached out to me, asking me to dinner several times. I’m always too busy, not really, and tell them I can’t. I’ve stopped going to church. I’ve lost my job, my home, my friends; I’m a mess.”
“Are you ready for me to talk?” Asked Pastor Jones. “I think so,” responded George.
“Well, if I need more information, along the way, since we’re having a discussion, feel free to interject.”
The first thing is that it is good that you are feeling terrible for the things you have done. This shows that God may be working in your heart to bring you back to himself. According to Psalm 51, David felt extreme sadness and conviction in his soul because of his sin. He said,
Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight— That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge (Psalm 51:1–4).
“I’m hoping that this is what you are experiencing.”
“I think it is. How can I know?” George asked.
Pastor Jones said, “One way to find out is to answer the question, why do you feel so badly for what you have done? If you feel badly because your life has become a wreck and things aren’t nice anymore, it could be that you’re just feeling sorry for yourself. You’re experiencing the fruit of what you’ve been doing and you don’t like it. On the other hand, it could be that you are experiencing the hand of God. Only you can answer that question.
“Another way to answer the question is to ask yourself, What you are willing to do to fix the situation with God and your friends? 2 Corinthians 7:10 says, “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” Are you willing to make things right with God, to change the way you are living, and to repair the ruins of your relationship with Fred and Gloria?”
George, thought for a few moments and said, “I’m not sure how to answer the first question. I don’t know if God is the reason, I’m feeling so terribly, or if it is because I’m just tired of my life. It has become a train wreck you know.”
“What about the second question?” Pastor Jones asked. “Notice in that Psalm 51 passage I read to you, that David’s sin was against God and God alone. How does that stack up with what you’ve been thinking about your behavior toward Fred and Gloria?”
“Another way to ask that question is so ask, Where is Jesus in all this?”
Again, George thought for a few seconds, “I guess I never thought about Jesus in all this. Where is Jesus in all this?”
Pastor Jones began, “George, you may need to take notes on this. What I am about to say is very very important to you and your situation. David acknowledged that his sin was against God and only against God. Do you know what the sin was he was talking about?”
“No,” answered George. “Tell me.”
“In 2 Samuel 11 and 12 the story is told about king David taking a stroll on the roof of his house when he should have been off at war with his troops. He saw a beautiful woman bathing on her roof and lusted after her. He went down, found out who she was, and had his servants go get her. He has relations with her and she became pregnant. When he found this out, he conspired to have her husband brought back from the front so that he could sleep with her and hoped that he would think the child was his. But when the man came home, he thought it disloyal to his troops to have fun when they were still fighting and losing their lives. So, he didn’t sleep with his wife.
“When David found out that his plan had failed, he had Uriah (the woman’s husband) killed in battle and he took his wife as his own, intending to bring up the child as his heir.
“After this, Nathan (the prophet) came to David and through a story, not unlike David’s, revealed to him that God was angry with David for adultery and murder. This revelation to David and his subsequent conviction of sin resulted in his cry to God in Psalm 51.”
“But adultery and murder are against the man and his wife, not against God” said George. “I suppose it was against God because it was against God’s commands, but how can it be against God and God alone?”
“Great question,” said Pastor Jones. “Let me tell you what I think. I believe that David was saying, not that he hadn’t sinned against Bathsheba and Uriah, but that his sin was primarily against God and that was the first and greatest sin. His relationship with God was destroyed and he felt that loss intensely, such that he could say that his sin was ever before his eyes. It was all he could think of, when he closed his eyes at night, he thought of it. When he woke in the morning, it was the first thing he thought of. He constantly thought of it, but it was the destroyed relationship with God that he was dealing with, not the adultery or murder. He needed to get things right with God before he could even think of what he had done to other people.”
“As you’ve been talking, I’ve been realizing that that describes me,” George said. “As I said earlier, I ‘came to the Lord,’ when I was in college. Because I was friends with Jeff, and he had a vibrant relationship with Jesus, I just sort of assumed that I had a relationship with God. In these past few months, I’ve realized that I either never had a relationship, or I’ve seriously drifted away from what relationship I did have. But now what do I do?”
“In one sense it doesn’t matter whether you were a Christian before or not. Just ensure you are one now. Because of sin, our relationship with God is destroyed,” began Pastor Jones. “And because the sin is against God, the penalty or punishment for sin is death (Rom. 6:23). We earned death because of Adam’s sin, but we also participate in Adam’s sin when we sin on our own. You sinned by treating your friends in a reprehensible way, but you sinned against God first and them second. So, you need to get your relationship with God fixed first and then with Fred and Gloria. The bad news is that you have earned death. And you need to know and believe that.”
“Well, if feeling like a am in serious trouble is any indication that I believe it, then I believe that I deserve death. I also feel like I am dying right now. So, please continue.”
Pastor Jones continued. “As I said, the bad news is that you deserve death. The good news is that God knows that and has provided someone to take your death, your punishment for you. Jesus the righteous one, the holy Son of God. God sent Jesus, who knew no sin, to become sin for us and to die in our place, for us, as our representative. It’s important for you to hear this from the Word of God and not just from me:
“My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1)
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
“Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:20–21)
“But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.” (Hebrews 10:12–13)
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
The good news, the Gospel, is that God can reconcile you to himself by accepting his son’s death in your behalf. That’s where Jesus is in all this. He is your savior. All you have to do is to understand the great gift, believe it, trust in in it, and act on that belief.
“Here are a few passages that reflect what I’ve said here:
Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (Acts 8:37)
For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. (Romans 5:10–11)
Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. (Matthew 3:8–9)
George was visibly shaken, weeping, and trembling. He said, “I believe all that you are saying. I’ve heard it since I was in college and now am hearing it for the first time. I want to be forgiven. I want to be in God’s life. I want to have the joy of God in me and I want this terrible guilt and shame to leave me. What do I need to do to make it happen?”
Pastor Jones responded, “Well you need to get alone with God and deal with him alone, but I’ll pray for you now. Father, we are tremendously happy with how you are dealing with George. I pray that this feeling he is experiencing now is the real deal. That he is truly being drawn by your Spirit to confess his sin to you and to be reconciled to you and then to everyone he has sinned against. We ask that you would not let him slide off and back into his former life, but that you would forgive him for his sin, fill him with your Spirit, change him from the inside out and give him deep and abiding joy. In Jesus wonderful name we pray. Amen!”
“So, now, here’s what I suggest you do. Go home and tell God exactly what you think about all of this. Tell him about your sin and rebellion, asking him to forgive you and to let you know what you need to do next. Get your Bible out and read the Gospel of John and come back here when you are finished and we can have another great conversation. How does that sound to you?”
“You know what?” Responded George, “I haven’t felt like this…ever. I feel free, light, forgiven, wonderful. I’ll do what you suggest. I have a few days off and I’m going to go right home and read my Bible. Thank you very much for your time. I’ll see you as soon as I can.”
“God bless you and continue to bless you, in Jesus Name,” Pastor Jones said, I’ll see you in a few days.”