Before/Christ/After

Tim Isbell, May 2010

As I live my life of Ordinary Practices with unchurched people, sometimes the door opens for me to share something of my own journey to, or deeper into, Christian faith.  These opportunities are not open for a long speech, or even a 5 minute testimony.  When the window opens.  The opening is often unexpected, and is open for a 1 minute response.  Somewhere I ran across the concept of framing my response in 3 pieces:

  1. What life was like before Christ.

  2. The intersection with Christ

  3. What life is like after Christ entered. 


Example 1

Before: Focused on performance and accomplishment; distracted by insecurity and fear of failure; desperately needed to be right.

Then Christ: Spent 6 months reflecting on love that Christ must have for me to die for my sin. Plus contrasting the world's offer of a career based on performance to Jesus' offer to be my intimate ally based on my availability rather than my abilities. God helped me to identify with the kid who offered his lunch to Jesus and got a chance to be a partner in ministry. John 6.1-15.

After: These drew me into a soul-satisfying life with God - now and forever. God made me fruitful in several areas; in others God is still transforming me.


Example 2

Before: Partially convinced of the truths and claims of Christ.

Then Christ: Showed me my own impure heart and the brokenness in every person around me. I decided to offer myself to the one who shows me my problem and offers restoration into a new life. My experience with God and my (Fuller) Seminary education convinced me of the solidness of putting my full trust in Christ.

After: Confident that the Good News of Jesus is the only hope of the world, I rearranged my life around sharing the Good News of salvation and restoration whenever God opens an opportunity .


Example 3

Before: Fear of pain/death.

Then Christ: In 2005 I had a major heart attack. Lying in the catheterization lab at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, Christ met me through the crucifix on every wall, and through 1 Peter 4.1.

After: I now see physical suffering as a form of living in solidarity with Jesus, who suffered much worse for me than any suffering I will experience. Subsequently God's Spirit has taught me the meaning of 1 Peter 4.1b, "For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin."

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