A. THE NEW LIFE IN CHRIST
TESTIFYING AT WORK
At work, God was also exposing me to new situations in order that my faith might grow. Let me just recall two of these. At that time, the male staff members of the Department of Justice (Head Office) were having their morning tea separate from the ladies and were grouped more or less according to seniority. Now you know how it is when men group together: dirty jokes and remarks. That was the case especially on Mondays when the men in our group would recall the best jokes they had heard during the weekend. I was repelled by this conversation but kept aloof week after week, especially because I was somewhat of a junior member of staff amongst those high ranking officials.
However, on a certain Monday morning, I could not stand it any longer; the Spirit of God just rose up within me causing me to speak without counting the cost. What I said to them was this: “I am disgusted by the jokes you men are telling here at this table. Most of you are elders or deacons in your respective churches. Yesterday you were wearing your black suits and white ties. Your minister may have asked you to pray in the vestry before the meeting started and you did so. Yet this morning with the very same mouth and lips that you spoke to God, using His name, you are telling these filthy jokes. If that is not what the Bible calls a Pharisee, then I do not know what a Pharisee is.” As you can imagine, there was an awkward silence all around that table as these senior men busied themselves in stirring their tea, looking down at their cups, not daring to look at their colleagues and especially not wanting to look at me. I was so full of indignation that I did not care about my career.
After about 30 seconds of dead silence, one of them, known to have no reverence for God, spoke up, challenging me, saying: “So, what has happened to you?” I was still boiling with, hopefully, righteous indignation and did not hesitate for a single moment to answer him, saying: “I will tell you what happened to me. I became a Christian. A while ago I gave my life to God and I accepted Him as my Lord and Saviour. I am no longer just a member of my church, I am no longer just a deacon, I am born again by the Spirit of God and the Word of God says in 2 Corinthians 5:17: ‘If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have passed away, behold it has all become new’. That is what has occurred in my life. I have become a totally new kind of person. Those old things, those dirty things, have passed away. God cleansed my heart I can no longer engage in such filthy talk: it disgusts me.” You see, with the devil you must never mince your words. Shoot like a cowboy: straight from the hip. Use the Word of God. Hit him in the forehead, right between the eyes as David did with Goliath. The silence around that table deepened. Not a single word was spoken.
Unconverted church going people can also speak piously when it suits them. They can speak of their church, of the bazaar that was held on Saturday and about how much money was raised. They can speak of the renovations that were to be undertaken to the building. That kind of speech is quite in order and nobody would be offended. In our government department, people that held some or other position in their churches, were honoured and it would even count in their favour when their promotion was considered. But to speak about things like being born again, using words like: “The Spirit of God,” that just was not done. That was totally out of bounds. That was offensive. How then did a government servant dare to speak like that to his colleagues and especially to his seniors?
Well let me tell you, never before had the morning tea session come to such an abrupt end. Everyone around that table suddenly found a good reason to be excused and, within half a minute, I was the only one remaining to finish my cup of tea. What I then experienced in that empty tearoom was almost too great to frame in words. Suddenly there was an enormous flood of joy within my heart as the Holy Spirit testified to my spirit saying: “Well done son, you truly are mine.” As I sat all alone at that table, I had an overwhelming assurance of salvation. I just knew deep down that my experience in the caravan the morning after I had given my life to God, was not just an upsurge of emotion, but solid reality and that that would never, ever change again.
The result of it all: Well I never was called in and reprimanded for what I had said; on the contrary, I think many of those men thought deeply about it and admired the courage which God had given me to speak out against things they very well knew to be wrong. There were some good men in that department and I do believe that many of them were ashamed of their lives and might even have considered whether they were in the right standing with the Lord.
What I can say is that there was a very visible reaction to my short speech of that morning. The Department of Justice building in which we were working consisted of five floors and we travelled up and down by lift. By the end of that day I doubt whether there was a single member of staff, consisting of a few hundred people, that had not heard what had happened in the fourth floor tea room that morning. It was not that people spoke to me about it, but just the way they looked at me in the lift, said it all. I could sense very clearly that they knew. It was almost as if a sort of holy fear for me had come upon them, although I never intended it to be like that. Some could not look me in the eye, especially those that knew that they too were guilty of sometimes engaging in obscene or frivolous talk. From that day onwards, when I would enter a room in which people were engaged in such talk and they would see me coming, a hush would come upon them and their conversation would dry up. Their attitude would change and they suddenly would begin to speak of things more fitting for a Christian. At the onset, I was somewhat embarrassed, but then began to see the humour in it all.
The negative side of it, if I may call it negative, was that a separation developed between me and many of my old-time friends. We still tried to enjoy one another’s company as we had done in the past, but somehow, in the unseen world of the Spirit, we had moved miles apart and no amount of natural goodwill could bridge that gap. We now were in different worlds, in two different kingdoms. There was a border post between us, a customs office, and heavenly passports were required for them to cross over to my side. Many of them were good people, as good people go in this world. Yes, they were good people, but not God’s people and the distance between good people and God’s people is as far as the East is from the West. These have very little in common. They serve two different gods. The one serves the Creator of the universe and His son Jesus, the Saviour of mankind; the other serves the king of this present darkness, the lord of the kingdoms of this world and never will light and darkness be able to blend. As I grew in insight into the ways of God and as I yielded myself to the working of the Spirit, I just gently drifted away from them, further and further, as a cloud moved by the wind is detached from the mountain top and moves towards it’s destination way beyond the horizon.
Some of them made an effort to maintain our old friendship and invited me to birthday celebrations of the men on our staff. We would then go to a nearby hotel and they would have a boisterous boozing party. I would walk around, sit around sipping a beer, but my heart was no longer in it. At times we all had to gather around the birthday boy singing songs like “Drink it down, down, down” and I would stand there with a sickly smile on my face, being physically within the group, but no longer emotionally part of it. At that stage I felt that it was the right thing for me to do to attend such parties. I felt that in that way I might be able to influence them for Christ, but I later discovered that very little was to be gained in that way and that I was actually just endangering my walk with God.
I was amongst them, but no longer part of them. In my heart I was longing to get home, checking my watch every now and then, burning to get back to the Christian book lying at my bedside. God had uprooted me from the old garden in which I had been growing and bearing the fruit of unrighteousness for twenty-nine years and transplanted me into His new spiritual paradise. So gradually I was moving further and further away from my old friends and actually becoming a very lonely man amongst the hundreds of men amongst whom I was working. God’s people, the friends of Jesus, often are lonely people as seen in the Book of Hebrews.
OVERCOME THE DEVIL BY THE WORD OF YOUR TESTIMONY!
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