BY PASTOR TONY REA | JANUARY 18, 2021
Most of you reading my blog know my personal come-to-Jesus moment. It happened back in 1975, at the age of 20, when my police partner shared the salvation story with me.
I’ve often described Christian conversion this way, “Some people hear the truth about Jesus and see the light, but then there are others who receive the gospel message and get radically saved!” For me, it was the latter, and I was immediately numbered among the fanatics who encountered a life-changing experience.
Now to be clear, even though sold-out believers know precisely what I mean by that, from a doctrinal standpoint there is really only one level of salvation. You’re either saved or unsaved. Salvation requires God’s amazing grace every time.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.
No one is good enough; no one works or makes their way to heaven all by themselves; no one will ever be able to find some kind of secret loophole. We all need a Savior, and His name is Jesus. Jesus is the way to God; and the invitation to surrender your life to Him is extended to everyone, no exceptions. Bottom line, salvation is a gift from God—end of story! So making the statement “radically saved” to describe a passionate life-altering decision for Christ is me yet again being somewhat dramatic, adding color and animation, but definitely not an exaggeration.
One of my all-time favorite movies, without question, top 10, has to be “A Few Good Men.” This highly acclaimed box office hit was released in December, 1992, the same year we started CCC. (A possible explanation for my fond affection.) Without going into a whole lot of detail, the film revolves around the court martial of two U.S. Marines charged with the murder of a fellow Marine. The drama builds as defense attorneys for the accused soldiers prepare and strategize their case.
Lieutenant Commander JoAnne Galloway (Demi Moore) is highly perturbed about the murder case being assigned to Lieutenant Junior Grade Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise). Galloway is ticked because, for the most part, as a lawyer Kaffee is pathetic at best. Known for his classic plea-bargaining negotiations, Kaffee is more interested in playing softball on the Navy team then he is representing clients.
When Kaffee is asked to travel to GTMO, Guantanamo Bay to question witnesses and gather evidence for the case, Commander Galloway passes along some advice to Kaffee. She’s says, “Don’t get cute down there in Cuba because the Marines in Guantanamo are fanatical.”
“Fanatical about what?” was his response.
Galloway’s answer, “About being Marines.”
One more time: “Marines in Guantanamo Bay are fanatical… about being Marines.”
What a quote! It’s probably one of the most powerful lines in the entire movie—and if you’ve seen the movie, you know there is some pretty creative and clever dialogue. Watch the movie a couple times, and I’m sure you will be quoting some of those memorable scripts yourself. (e.g. “You can’t handle the truth,” or You have to ask me nicely.”)
Our English word fanatic comes from the modern Latin word “fanaticus” which carries the meaning of being “divinely inspired.” A healthy Christian is a person with an enormous, utmost, and often unquestionable enthusiasm and devotion for God, aka a fanatic. Being a faith fanatic means you possess passion and a tremendous amount of zeal. We see an example of this kind of spiritual fervor in the gospel of John when Jesus entered the temple courts in Jerusalem at Passover time and overturned the tables of the merchants and money changers.
After witnessing Jesus’ behavior in the temple, the disciples remembered what David had written hundreds of years earlier in Psalm 69:9, “…zeal for God’s house has consumed me.” That’s what zeal and spiritual passion does. It compels us to pursue the presence and power of God with every ounce of strength we have. When we get crazy enough to run hard after the living God, guess what, we’re going to encounter Him in ways we never dreamed or imagined.
“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord…