We have been approved by God to be those who preach the gospel. So our motivation to preach is not pleasing people but pleasing God, who thoroughly examines our hearts. 1 Thessalonians 2:4, TPT
The first day of school when I was 12 years old, I sat in the classroom and looked around the room and thought, “If I stay a Christian, I won’t have any friends.”
I decided to not follow Jesus.
I have always been wholehearted in my decisions. I don’t stop or quit easily. Applying this attitude toward not following Jesus meant that I became a pagan of pagans and a leader of pagans.
I still live in the city where I was raised, and where I was a pastor for 49 years.
I was sitting with my wife in a restaurant this week. A woman sat down at our table and said to me, “Whenever I tell someone that I went to the same high school that you did, sooner or later they ask if I knew Grant Edwards and then comment, “How in the world did he become a pastor?’”
There is a poem entitled Hound of Heaven which describes God’s pursuit of our souls. Even though I was faithless, God was faithful. He didn’t stop chasing me.
When I did accept Jesus at 18 years old, my friends were divided, with 50 percent as scoffers and the other 50 percent accepting Jesus through my testimony. I’ve prayed for the scoffers over the years. On Facebook, I note that many who scoffed now have faith.
The Hound doesn’t stop.
I read a theologian who said that those who don’t accept Jesus, despite their reasoned arguments against God’s existence, really don’t want to lose friends or give up behavior.
Peer pressure, desired behavior, hardened pride, I agree, how can anyone look at a sunset and ask, “Is there a God?”
All of us are social.
Our philosophies are more a product of what those around us think – those we respect and those we are trying to impress. There will be a price for following Jesus. The Apostle Peter writes:
They marvel that you no longer rush to join them in the excesses of their corrupt lifestyles, and so they vilify you. 1 Peter 4:4, TPT
Peer pressure used to be just kids in a classroom. It’s now multiplied thousands of times through social media. An entire world can vilify faithfulness through a viral video.
I’m grateful that God did not give up on me during my rebellion.
He won’t with you or those in your prayers. God’s faithfulness is manifest in love expressed through Jesus and preserved through the conviction of the Spirit. Arguments and lust always end in emptiness by comparison.
The most hardened of people often fall the deepest into God’s grace.
This is my own testimony!