“I am writing to request a story. It is about something that you mentioned parenthetically in your recount of the funeral ceremony. I want to know more about the linebacker that is a big reason that you are still a Christian. I want to know why you were in danger of becoming something other than a Christian. I want to understand.”My decision to put my faith in Christ and to try to live as a Christian is something I waffled on most of my early life. I was brought up in a very conservative (you could say legalistic) church environment. When I was 12 or 13 I made a decision to be baptized in obedience to the gospel. I did this for two reasons, 1. I believed the Bible to be true, 2. I didn’t want to go to hell. This was the start of me developing as a Christian.
Through out my teen years I went back and forth on my commitment. Most of the things I choose to do (like party and drink) were a result of rebelling against my parents and against the Baptist private school they sent me to.
In Baptist school I learned that there exists a great deal of B.S. (that doesn’t stand for Bible Study) among so-called Christians. Being smart and biblically knowledgeable isn’t a good thing when you’re a smart-alecky kid, surrounded by obvious contradictions in a legalistic “Christian” environment. I developed a habit of critically tearing apart the foolishness and hypocrisy of those around me as an excuse for engaging in things I knew to be wrong.
I received a 75% scholarship to attend a private Christian college. I decided to get serious about my faith and declared a major in religious education and took honors level Bible classes. That summer I worked in the missions field and for church summer camps. I became very disgruntled with church people. The longer I stayed around church people the more I despised religion.
After graduation I moved west. I lived as I saw fit. Then I moved back to my parent’s home so I could work on an MBA. Living under their roof I was required to attend church. Free rent in exchange for a couple of hours on Sunday was an easy decision to make.
That’s when Marvin (his real name) happened. One day after church he grabbed me by the shoulder and asked “how are you and the Lord doing?”. I didn’t have a good answer. A few weeks latter he cornered me again and asked what I was doing the next weekend. I ended up at an all black church hearing him put on a gospel meeting. He did stuff like that all the time until he finally had me working as a prison Chaplin.
What happened was the only black man attending a conservative white church took an interest in the spiritual well being of a morally adrift white kid and put him to work on developing and maturing as a Christian. If he hadn’t come along I doubt I’d be a Christian today. The devil had too strong a hold on me. Marvin cross checked Satan; picked me up, dusted me off and set me back on track, and then he rode my butt for the next two years to make sure I didn’t backslide again.