The Litmus Test : For Christians Only
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The Real Down-to-Earth Jesus - Andrew's Testimony

I grew up in a traditional Protestant family. We went to church every Sunday. Every year my family went to a Christian family camp where people of all ages came to go “farther out with Jesus” – to a retreat. Every year after that camp my family would “get serious for God.” But slowly we would settle back down into our daily routines and the cares of life would come upon us, and the emotional high from camp would wear off. For me camp was like my gas station. But I would run out of gas way before the next camp.

In high school, I questioned a lot of what I heard in church and even at that camp. I started seeking outside of Christianity for spirituality. In college I mixed Jesus into every different religion and philosophy that I tasted. I started to use drugs as a means for religious/mystical experience. I always believed that Jesus was there with me, as well as Buddha, Ghandi, Timothy Leary, Jerry Garcia, etc.

At the end of my first year I had decided to actually read the entire New Testament. I started with the gospels. By this time I had HIPPIE-FIED Jesus. I read and read and I couldn’t put it down. There were things that Jesus said that I had never heard in church or at camp. I read about the radical love He had. How He traveled and spoke of the Kingdom of God, having no place to lay His head. How His disciples abandoned everything to follow Him. When I began reading Acts I got more excited. I read in chapters 2 and 4 that they shared everything and lived communally.

I began to attend a Pentecostal church as well as a home group Bible study. That summer at camp I was convicted of my pot smoking and seeing Jesus as a hippie mystic. I straightened up and became zealous for God, attending services and meetings every time I had a chance. At one Bible study I was sharing about how the first disciples lived communally, and a woman there told me about a church that lived that way in the ’70s and they were still fairly communal today. Immediately I went there to spend a few weeks. I read a book about how that community began. I was fascinated. Although they no longer lived together there was always something going on in that church. There I got caught up in the nostalgia of the Jesus Movement of the ’70s. I immediately joined the church and moved to that town.

I would ask from time to time about what it was like when they lived together. I would get responses like, “It was too hard; we couldn’t do it,” and “I didn’t like other people having their say in my family’s life.” When I would express my burden to live together and share everything, they would fondly say, “Oh, you should have been here 30 years ago,” and “You were born in the wrong generation.” But some would say, “Go ahead and try.”

I was willing to make the sacrifice, but I couldn’t find others who were willing. I would wonder how they could say, “It’s too hard.” Isn’t the Holy Spirit strong enough to bring it about? Isn’t God’s love strong enough? Eventually I didn’t think so much about Acts 2 and 4 and living together. I just went with the flow in my church.

A few years went by and while attending a Messianic Jewish conference in a neighboring city, a flicker of hope came to me. I went outside for some fresh air and met a couple of men who told me that they lived in a community of believers who lived like Acts 2 and 4. One of them said he used to be a pastor of a Pentecostal church and he gave it all up to live in this community. I was astonished to hear of a pastor quitting his pastorate to live out the New Testament. Immediately I was drawn to them. I talked all about them to the people who took me to the conference.

So the first chance I got I took time off of work and went to visit. It didn’t take long to see that it wasn’t a certain set of rules that held them together, or a charismatic guru-type person persuading everybody. It was true, genuine love! It was the kind of love that I wanted but had never seen before, the kind of love that called all to live for others, not themselves. They had the heart to give up everything and make the sacrifice that it takes to live out Acts 2 and 4. It was the genuine love of God that was poured into their hearts.

I quickly saw that is was not some utopian hippie idealistic dream, but down-to-earth reality. I saw where the rubber hit the road. I saw that though I was willing, I did not in myself have the kind of love that it takes to live that life. But I wanted it. I wanted a clean new start. I wanted to be truly saved from my sins. I wanted to be able to love like Jesus loved, as I saw demonstrated there. I knew they were the only ones who had it, so if I wanted it, I would have to get it from them.

They told me that I could get it from Him, the real down-to-earth Jesus whom they called by the name Yahshua. I could have the same Holy Spirit that they had if I would give my life to Him and make the sacrifice to build His Kingdom. That sacrifice was my life, my own sovereignty. I had to make Him Sovereign in reality, and live it out every day by loving and sharing with the community of God. So down I went into the waters, being cleansed and set free from my sin, and up I came with a resurrected life to give totallyNow every day I can serve Him where He is (John 12:26), and love my brothers as He teaches (John 13:34-35; 1 John 3:14-19). I am so thankful! to my King and my new family. Now every day I can serve Him where He is (John 12:26), and love my brothers as He teaches (John 13:34-35; 1 John 3:14-19). I am so thankful!


 

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