The Words that Define the Relationship
By Kate Berkey - April 5, 2018
Posted in Adult Ministry, Student Ministry, Stories from NMC, Discipleship
That’s the first word that comes to Grant Kauffman’s mind when he thinks about Jesus. He grew up in the church. He’s known about Jesus for as long as he can remember. Church and the Bible and Christianity have always been part of his life. But he still remembers the day he realized that knowing about Jesus and trusting Jesus were different things. That’s was when forgiveness first came alive.
It seemed like any other Sunday, but on that day, something was different. The message was on giving your life to Christ, surrendering to Jesus, asking for forgiveness, and trusting Him. For the first time, the person of Jesus became more real to Grant than ever before, and he knew that he wanted to step into a relationship with Him.
That’s what Grant experienced when he decided to give his life to Christ. It was forgiveness for everything, and it’s this forgiveness that he still experiences every day. He’s not a guy without temptation. As a high school student, temptation is everywhere. It knocks on the door of his heart, his mind, his soul. It tries to let itself in, and it’s a fight to keep it out. And in the moments when temptation turns to sin, he’s met with one thing—forgiveness.
Day by day by day, Grant is learning to walk with the Lord. He’s learning to see the ways out of temptation that God promises to provide. He’s learning to listen to the Holy Spirit’s small, gentle whispers, the words that provide life and hope. He’s learning to obey. It’s a day-by-day kind of thing, because that’s what relationships are—day by day, moment by moment, experience by experience.
And Grant feels fortunate in this day-by-day relationship that he has with Jesus, because he has a support system that wants the relationship to thrive. For him, his parents have always been the most influential people in his life, encouraging him and challenging him and helping him succeed. On the days when he falls short, they are there. On the days when he thrives, they are there. On the days when his questions seem to outnumber his answers, they are there.
And it was his parents who were with him on Sunday, April 1, 2018, when Grant took another step in his relationship with Jesus.
When he first heard about Easter baptism, Grant felt a tug on his heart, something in him that seemed to whisper, “Follow me.” And so he did. Grant was baptized on Easter Sunday to show others that he is dedicated to following Jesus step by step. Baptism also marked something significant in his heart. It marked the start of a new season, one marked by total surrender.
So when Grant Kauffman thinks about Jesus, he thinks about forgiveness because he needs it so much, and now when he thinks about Jesus, he also thinks of two other words—total surrender. It’s Grant’s response to the abounding forgiveness Jesus has given him. It’s Grant’s response to the life Jesus has called him to.
Step by step, Grant follows Jesus in total surrender, living in the grace, forgiveness, and new life that He offers.
During Easter weekend this year, we had the opportunity to hear 13 people’s stories of transformation as they were baptized. There was something incredibly beautiful and profound about celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ and baptism. Baptism, of course, doesn’t save a person. Baptism is simply an outward action of an inward transformation.
It’s the outward action of a woman in her 60s who has been transformed by the Lord’s faithfulness in her life over the years, even when she didn’t recognize it. It’s the outward action of her decision to leave her old life behind and follow Him.
It’s the outward action of a middle school girl who has been transformed by Jesus’ freedom as she has surrendered her life to him. It’s the outward action of a relationship that has been built over time and through trials.
It’s the outward action of a man in his 40s who has been transformed into a new creation through the power of Jesus Christ. It’s the outward action of a man who reached the end of his rope and found Jesus there, ready to carry him to a new life full of hope and promise.
It’s the outward action of a high school guy who has been transformed by Jesus’ forgiveness. It’s an outward action of the transformational power of living by the Spirit and obeying that still, small voice.
We all have our stories of transformation. Some are full of trauma and major life events. Some are marked by moments of steady faithfulness, day after day following Jesus. And we all have words that come to mind when we think of Jesus. Perhaps it’s love, grace, Savior, friend.
Or maybe it’s forgiveness, because we all need it desperately.