(excerpted from Unashamed by Lecrae)
The final night of the conference was New Year’s Eve. All the attendees were gathering in the hotel ballroom for a message and a concert before the countdown to midnight. I was typically late, so I had to sit in the overflow room where Pastor James White’s sermon was live streaming from the main room. Something was different about this guy than other preachers I’d heard. He was talking to us, not at us. He spoke our language, using terminology that was popular at the time so we could all understand. The ancient Christian message seemed relevant to my life for the first time.
Pastor White’s description of Jesus’ death on the cross was almost cinematic. It was like watching “The Passion of the Christ” for the first time. Sure, I knew that Jesus had been crucified, but I was oblivious to the details. I’d never heard that Jesus was beaten into a swollen lump of flesh. I’d never heard that he was whipped with a cat of nine tails with sharpened pieces of bone and glass that ripped the skin off his back. I’d never heard that he had to carry his own splintering cross up a hill to the place of execution. I’d never heard that the Roman soldiers drove nails the size of railroad spikes through his wrist.
I always thought of Jesus as this fluffy lamb of a man who walked around saying, “I love you, my children. Bless you.” But the man Pastor White spoke about was more complex than that.
“Sure, Jesus was sensitive, but he was also like a lot of you tough guys in the crowd,” he said. “You rough necks out there— how dare you call my Jesus a punk!”
I began stirring in my chair. The Jesus I had pictured in my mind was frail and weak and bashful. He was the kind of person who would’ve been eaten alive on the streets of Southeast San Diego. But the man that Pastor White was describing was both gentle and strong. He was someone I could respect and trust at the same time.
But it all came to a head when Pastor White looked down at the pages of his Bible and read 1 Corinthians 6:20: “For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are God’s.”
The words hit me like hurricane winds.
Wait. I was bought with a price. The price that Jesus paid was for me? The beating and whipping and nails and dying were all done for me? For me?
Scenes from my life were flashing before my eyes. The young girls I’d messed around with in secret as a child. The pain and insignificance from my father’s absence. The apathy I felt as a child about Big Momma’s missions work. The fistfuls of paper I’d ripped from the Bible. The way I’d flippantly used God’s name as a curse word. Every thing I’d stolen, everything I’d smoked, everyone I’d slept with. I saw all my rebellion in a flash.
Even though he knew all my mistakes, God still died for me. I don’t even like God, and God loves me. Despite everything, God bought me at a price.
My inhibitions disintegrated, and I collapsed to my knees. I’m not a crier, but tears were running down my cheeks. I didn’t care anymore.
“Please forgive me, God. I’m so sorry. Please forgive me. I’m so sorry.”
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