As a child, I was raised in a nominal Christian home, but didn’t talk much about Jesus.
Around middle school, I became a Jesus Freak. I told everyone about Christ. I thought that was the only way to live.
At age 16, I thought I could mix both worlds: church with sports, sexual immorality, alcohol and drugs.
I was an all or nothing kind of guy. But I was wrong about what I needed and what I really wanted.
For about 6 years, I pursued whatever I thought would make me happy and as much of it as I could possibly get.
After graduation, I went to Indiana University and joined a fraternity, the largest one I could find so I could get more of what I thought I needed. I was living it up with about 180 guys.
Talking with a few guys who used to live Christian lives, the conversation always somehow turned to God. We always said we missed God and that connection we had.
One of us came up with the idea of going to a church service. When that didn’t work out a friend said he knew a guy with Cru named Eric Steffen who would come and start a Bible study with our fraternity. We were like, “Ok, sure. Yeah.”
We wanted to see how this Cru guy would handle coming in and cracking open a Bible in our surroundings. I don’t think Eric had ever been part of a fraternity, so I wondered how he was going to fit in. I wanted to see how he would react, how other people would react.
Something impressed me: he was really at peace. He really cared about us. He cared about what he was talking about when he was reading the scriptures with us.
We really liked the Bible study and kept doing it week after week. Guys would come in with beer or on whatever illegal substance, sometimes yelling obscenities, but Eric never flinched. He never commented on it. And he continued to stay committed to the material we were covering.
Before going to Australia my junior year to study overseas, Eric took me out to lunch. I told him I wasn’t connecting with God. I was selfish. There were certain things I wasn’t willing to change in my life.
Eric told me I would become a Christ-follower in Australia and my life would change. But I wasn’t going to Australia to follow God. I was going as part of the curriculum I was studying. I was going to have a good time. That was that.
But, through a series of events in Australia, I realized I needed Christ. I saw a different perspective on life. I realized I’m a little itty bitty speck on the planet, my life didn’t have much purpose. And if I kept doing the things I was doing, I knew it wouldn’t amount to much.
Two friends I met in Australia were Christ-followers and had a big influence on me. One night at a church service, I still wasn’t all in. I was using illegal substances and was sexually immoral. But I heard the pastor speaking and the message outlined my life. I heard a word from God in Revelation that God was going to spit me out of his mouth: I was neither hot nor cold.
The tipping point was right after I experienced the weight of that fear, I felt God saying, Look how much happier you were before you went on this six year journey… look how much happier you were when you were with me.
It all clicked. I was like, Wow. That’s it.
I remember saying, God, I’ll stop doing whatever you want me to stop doing and I’ll start doing whatever you want me to start doing.
I never used another illegal substance again. The alcohol use wore off and the sexual sin took a few months to let go of.
What started changing was that I cared. I never had many emotions for people or the world. That was never really on my heart or mind too much. And it started consuming me.
I wanted to help people and hear their stories. I found myself disliking the life of money, success and law school. I wanted to make my whole life about following Jesus.
When I came back for my senior year, those 4 guys had all become Christ-followers. We decided to start a Bible study again in our fraternity. We went with the same format Eric had taught us and had 12-15 guys in a Bible study my senior year.
Guys were giving up things similar to what I had given up. But they weren’t just giving it up, they were becoming passionate about following Jesus Christ.
Seeing transformation in other peoples’ lives was foundational to my life being about Christ.
Eric passed away before I could thank him.