Shepherd Elie Hamuli
A genuine encounter between Jesus Christ and a believer creates a distinct ‘before’ and ‘after’ picture – evidence of change. Jesus Christ, the Perfector and Finisher of our faith, takes us from one place to another. And the difference between our “before” and “after” in Christ is based on our testimony, as we “overcome by His blood and by the word of our testimonies […]” (Revelations 12:11). It is in our interest as followers of Christ to have a mental picture of where we came from, what we battled with and where we are now, victorious, after our encounter with Jesus-Christ.
Many people find it difficult to relate to information-filled stories that sound theoretical; thus, sharing the experience of our faith in Jesus Christ ministers much more powerfully to those seeking, waiting and watching for Jesus Christ. It is important to highlight that ‘information’ may be comprehended by the mind, but ultimately, an experience with Christ in our hearts brings a change. In other words, information about Christ is not what changes man’s heart but an experience with Him.
Luke 8: 26-39 describes how in a relatively short period, one’s life can turn around upon encountering Jesus Christ. These verses narrate a story of a man who was demon-possessed and got delivered by Jesus. Other things to note about this man is that he was not in his right mind, lived in the tombs, and would break the chains whenever chains restrained him. And that encounter with Jesus Christ addressed all these issues; He addresses our most troublesome and tormenting issues. Without Jesus, we are left to the hands of death and are attracted to the decays of this world, whether knowingly or not, as shown in the Bible verses.
After the man was delivered, an ‘after’ picture is painted when he was found in his right state of mind and at Jesus’s feet as the crowd returned. The town dwellers failed to make sense of what they saw. The man being at the feet of Jesus indicates intimacy. Within any relationship, the level of intimacy comes with a degree of closeness and expectations. Thus, abiding in the intimacy we have with Jesus Christ cements our personal experiences with Him. Hence, ‘sitting at His feet’ is a form of intimacy, a response emanating from our joyful expectation in Jesus Christ that is always met by His unfailing provision.
His presence is a place of rest for our bodies, minds and souls as Jesus Christ is trustworthy, a “friend closer than a brother”. Restoration follows from an encounter with Christ: just like the man was clothed in dignity after his encounter, we are clothed in Jesus’ Glory and Righteousness. He addresses the sin tormenting us and grants us eternal life. Restoration is multifaceted after an encounter with Christ. How wonderful it is that the man was in his right mind, thinking sober and was able to make sound choices. When we are with Jesus, He gives us the wisdom to make the right choices.
Most importantly, God, in His love and sovereignty, gives us the Holy Spirit to dwell in us when we have encountered Him so that we may produce Fruits. As abovementioned, we bear such fruits as we abide in Jesus Christ, and these fruits match our testimony. As the Bible says, there should be change: “You shall know them, by their fruit. The fruits speak for themselves (2 Corinthians 13:5). Therefore, we should not confuse people with what we portray because, at times, people read us first before they read the Bible, so we ought to set a good example both for the believer and the non-believer.
As we are blessed to be a blessing, a response to our changed lives is to testify of the goodness of God like the man healed in Luke 8. When he was sent home, he tirelessly proclaimed the goodness of God to all in the cities around him.
We are called to be witnesses of the wonders of God. Essentially, our “before” and “after” are equally for the benefit of others because they give a wonderful opportunity to bring salvation to many. Our past lives may easily creep back in when we do not understand that our identity no longer resides in the person that we once were but in Jesus Christ. Therefore, we should not be ashamed of where our change had taken place because it is where our testimonies get to touch many. With witnessing comes revival.