I asked him why he came to Jesus; what was his motive for becoming a christian and he explained that he thought that his life would be so much better and without the kind of problems he was facing at that time if he became a christian. He soon found out that his life's circumstances weren't any better and so when trouble hit, Kirby left the church.
It was sad to hear that story again where a person's motives for becoming a christian are self-centered instead of Christ-centered or Gospel-centered. Perhaps Kirby thought, 'what can Christ do for me?'...'how will Jesus fix my life?', when the question should be, 'What can I do for Christ?'. What kind of a Gospel message did he hear before he 'became a christian'? All too often the Gospel message is reduced to an offer of a better life if you will just say a prayer to ask Jesus into your heart...with NO mention of our sin, our spiritual depravity, and our desperate need to repent before a Holy God. Jesus' message was repentance, “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1:15 and "I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish." Luke 13:3 and 5. How often do we hear the word repentance when we hear the call to salvation in church?
If all a person hears is that if you come to Jesus, he will give you a better life, like Kirby, they will be sorely disappointed because life is hard and walking with Jesus doesn't mean your problems disappear. The problems for the early believers and apostles didn't get better in Christ - if anything they got worse - most were martyred for their faith or terribly persecuted to the end of their lives, but they persevered and had a peace and a joy that passed all understanding because they had died to self and fixed their eyes on a future hope in Christ. No, trusting in Jesus means that the living God will be with you throughout your life, whatever the circumstances. He will come and live IN you to strengthen, comfort you and guide you as you walk through all the trials and tribulations of life, even as he promised, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you'. Hebrews 13:5 What a wonderful promise and I know this to be true in my life. As Paris Reidhead says in his sermon, Ten Shekels & a Shirt, "Isn’t man happy? Did God intend to make man happy? Yes. But as a bi-product and not prime product."
The Gospel is not about us - it's about God and His great love for us while we were yet sinners. Did Kirby hear that God is Holy, Holy, Holy and that one day he would stand in His awesome presence and have to give an account for his life? Did he hear that we can't bribe the judge of the universe with our good works because God, who is good, won't take a bribe and that in God's sight, none of us actually have any good works! As Scripture says,
“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away; they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good; not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Romans 3:10-18
Did he come to a place where he understood that what he really deserved was God's wrath and justice, but that Jesus Christ bore his sin on the cross, paying his debt in full so that on that Great Day, Kirby could leave that heavenly courtroom free from acusation and covered by the righteousness of Christ?
Perhaps if he understood what he had been saved from and caught a glimpse of the richness of God's kindness and mercy toward him, he would have mourned over his sin and died to self, surrenderring his life as a thank offering to the glory of the One who died for him.
Kirby shared that as a cat has nine lives, he felt that he had been given twelve lives. I noted a large ugly scar on his forearm and wondered about the circumstances of that injury. I told him that his life was in God's hands and that God, by His common grace had kept him alive and wanted him to come to the knowledge of salvation while he yet lived. He nodded thoughtfully. He said that all this made sense to him and that he understood he had to get right with God. I prayed with him - for his dad and for God to reveal these truths to him. I left him with some reading material and went on my way. Please remember Kirby in your prayers and may God open his eyes and bring him to that wonderful place of repentance and faith.
Christian, get up, get out and share your faith. There are thousands of Kirby's out there.