People often reach a decision to follow Jesus when they are in crisis. “How can Jesus change my life?” they then ask, or, “How does Christianity change your life?” I recently interviewed a precious friend, Jessica Sanders, for my podcast Rooted by the Stream. That interview will go live on August 18. In it, Jessica told her story of “how Jesus changed my life.” I will share some of that story here.
Jesus Can Change Your Life
Jessica tells her story this way, “At 19 I found myself in a deep, dark meth addiction. What started as just a party turned into the biggest battle of my life for the next 15 years. By that, I mean I was in and out of jail for most of my life and not planning on changing. Then God met me on my way to prison. He broke down all of my walls and helped me walk into a life of complete freedom from drugs, alcohol, and codependency. As a consequence, I’m gratefully 6 years clean and sober.”
Jessica’s retelling of her story on the upcoming podcast is powerful and poignant. Truly, she had been helpless in her meth addiction. Why?
The answer is that methamphetamine is “a powerful and highly addictive synthetic (man-made) stimulant.” (U.S. Department of Justice.) Because of the intensity of the high and the sense of euphoria that it brings, people are often swiftly drawn into dependency on it. But along with the heightened feelings, come sleeplessness, agitation, paranoia, depletion of brain pleasure transmitters, and anxiety, among the negative effects. Additionally, rapid heart beat, stroke, heart inflammation, convulsions, hyperthermia, and death are associated dangers.
There’s much more that can be said about this drug and others. People get physically, spiritually, and emotionally enslaved by them. Thus, getting free is truly a miracle.
However, the main point of this post is to say that Jesus is the answer in this and all things. In 2014, Jessica cried out, “Jesus, help me,” while still incarcerated. “If you don’t help me get free, God, I can’t do this.” And at that moment, the presence of God flooded her jail cell with peace. She was divinely set free. Jesus Christ changed her life. He can change anyone’s life.
The Gospel is About Crossing from Death Into Life
How does Jesus change us? The gospel of Jesus Christ does not improve us a little. Rather, He brings us radically from death into life.
“Jesus said, ‘Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.'” John 5:24 NIV
Without Jesus, we are dead in our sins, stuck, with no hope of heaven. But, because the doorway into a better life here and into eternal life with God is Jesus, He very clearly referred to Himself as the Door or the Gate. This thought is in scripture texts like these:
“Therefore, Jesus said again, ‘Very truly I tell you, I am the gate (door) for the sheep (people).” John 10:7 NIV
And, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 NIV
He is a blessed and wonderful Savior. His love, mercy, and grace are a balm to broken people.
How Does Your Faith in Jesus Change Your Life?
Jesus encountered many people during His life on this earth. Because they met Him, they often walked away from Him radically changed for the good. For example, the man among the tombs and the Samaritan woman left Jesus transformed and began to minister. Likewise, the 120 people in the Upper Room waited on the Holy Spirit and were changed. Because of Jesus’ instructions to them and their obedience, they began to set the world on fire after their divine encounter.
Similarly, my friend Jessica was also launched into ministry. She said, “When the Spirit of Christ filled me in 2014, I was free of addiction, codependency, despair and turmoil. Instantly, she was delivered of these things. She simply needed to trust and grow in the following years. Learning and living the lifestyle of a believer was the next step.
For four years, she grew, living at the Healing House Christian Recovery Community. Worship, prayer, Bible study, and community brought maturity. Then, Jessica left to study ministry in Pennsylvania. In the picture above she is preaching to a packed room of people in India, a trip that took place this year. She is a glorious illustration of this truth:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old is gone, the new is here.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV
Jesus takes broken people, heals them, and launches them into beautiful lives of service. Because He qualifies us, our past lives do not stop this wonderful new beginning.
The gospel is simply this: God came into the world in Jesus Christ. None of us is suited to be in God’s presence on our own, no matter how good we seem to be. God is holy and perfect. Jesus came as the bridge, the mediator. He died on the cross, taking the sins of the world into Himself. He paid the price so that He could give us His righteousness if we believe in Him. Covered with this righteousness, we are then made fit to have reunion with God. Do you know Jesus? Have you let Him into your heart? It is the most important question we will ever answer.
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