Is being good, good enough?
By Doug Hunt
As a 19 year old, I moved to Washington D.C. to attend Georgetown University. My sights were set on completing a degree in International Economics at Georgetown’s prestigious School of Foreign Service. Little did I know that God had in mind for me an encounter of a different kind, an encounter with the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
I guess you could say that I had been a “seeker” for some time. I grew up attending church and never left behind that tradition, even into my college years. Somehow, I knew there was truth to be found in the church. But no one had presented me with the importance of a personal relationship with Christ. I thought that what I needed was to be “good” and that if I tried hard enough, I would get to heaven by virtue of my own deeds. I excused my mistakes and my sin and worked hard at being righteous. Of course, I always fell short of my own standard of goodness and of God’s and that left me feeling discouraged and without peace.
For some time, God had been stirring my soul and bringing persons across my path who shared the importance of being “born again”. My perception of what that meant and my reluctance to become “one of those Jesus people” prevented me from accepting the truth the first few times I heard it. Yet, God used each person who took the time and exercised the boldness to present the Gospel to me. Like a planter preparing the soil to sow seeds, my heart was being cultivated by God to receive the Truth of the Gospel. I am so thankful that the Lord did not give up on me.
One day shortly after the semester began at Georgetown, I was eating lunch alone. A fellow student, a stranger to me, sat down and we started talking. It wasn’t long before our conversation turned to spiritual things. He asked, “ Doug, if you were to die tonight, do you think you would be allowed into heaven?” My response was very telling. “I think so”, I said, “at least I am about 70% sure because I succeed at being good about 70% of the time.” By my response, my new friend knew that my security lay in works and not in faith. I’m sure he shared with me more about the Gospel at that lunch meeting, but honestly I can’t remember. What stuck with me that day was his genuine care and concern for me. He didn’t condemn me nor try to convince me on the spot of the Truth. Instead, he asked if we could get together again and continue the discussion.
That encounter at lunch began a process of discovery that eventually led to my receiving Christ. I will call my friend “Jake”. Jake invited me to attend an Intervarsity Christian Fellowship meeting that week at Georgetown. I didn’t make the meeting that first week, but he persisted and finally I joined him at one of their Thursday night sessions. My encounter with believers who obviously had a genuine love for one another convinced me that this group of Christians had something special that I did not have. Their enthusiasm for and interest in Jesus was disarming and strange at first. But their love for one another was so real that I knew I wanted what they had.
Shortly after that first meeting, I was invited to attend a small group Bible study. This sounded intriguing to me so I joined the group. That first night, I sensed that my heart was in a different place than the rest of the members of the study. I stayed behind after the rest of the students had left and asked the leader if he could explain the confusion I felt. Gently yet clearly, he guided me through a “Four Spiritual Laws” booklet and I understood that Christ was not seated on the throne of my heart and that I needed a personal relationship with the Savior. That night I prayed and invited Jesus into my life. Jake and others involved with the Intervarsity group at Georgetown nurtured my young faith and helped me grow in my new relationship with Jesus.
|Jesus’ death on the cross provided a bridge for people like me to cross over from death into life. Until one sees oneself as lost, they can not be found. Likewise, until one sees self to be separated from God they cannot be joined to God.
That September encounter with Jake at lunch occurred 23 years ago. Jesus has been my friend and my guide ever since. The boldness of one young man and the witness of his love and concern toward me was a key to my becoming a Christian. Jake offered to be my mentor and discipler that year and invested himself in me. By the following Spring, when we all left campus for the summer, my faith was firmly grounded. I was baptized at my home church and I had the opportunity to share my new faith with my pastor, family and friends.
That day at lunch, Jake took the risk to sit down and ask me a spiritually sensitive question. For this I am eternally grateful. His boldness and his trust in God for the fruit of his witness is an example for me and for all of us.
by Doug Hunt
Used by permission. All rights reserved. Revised: 01 Apr 2005 12:52:35 -0600 . Copyright © 2004 All rights reserved.