Archive: The Laymen Finally Got My Attention

By Merle G. Weaver, Assistant Pastor, Oak Lawn United Methodist Church, Dallas, Texas

I’m one of those Methodist preachers who was introduced to Christ by three laymen: a Presbyterian, an Episcopalian, and a Methodist, at a luncheon.

After 20 years in the “active” ministry of the Church, I look back now and realize that’s all it was—20 years of activity. I thank God for the Church and I thank God for those three laymen.

In 1967, my life took a sharp turn for the worse. In my 46th year of existence, and after 20 years in the ministry, I realized that my life was a failure. It all was brought forcefully to my attention by my ministerial peers that “my” cleverness, “my” abilities, and all “my good works for God” were not getting the job done. I had reached the peak of my ministerial career. I had climbed to the top, salary-wise, and, I thought, in prestige. But my Board of Trustees, which included laymen and ministers of the conference, painfully brought me down from my “ivory tower” and good job in the church institutional field.

I felt I was a failure! I surrendered everything I had left of Merle Weaver to the resurrected and living Christ. But let me tell you how Christ entered my life.

In my crisis, I began searching the Good News for Modem Man (the paperback edition of the New Testament produced by the American Bible Society). I had a strange, new hunger for the Word of God.

One day, a man whom I did not know called me at the request of a mutual friend. He invited me to a Bible study group. I put him off for several weeks because I had no nights open. Then he told me about a group of businessmen that met each Thursday morning at 7:30. I was trapped; I had nothing going on in my life at that hour, so I consented to go.

Tuesday he called to say: “Let’s get acquainted ahead of time—come and have lunch with me.”

He “ganged up” on me with two other Christian friends, and we four went to a nice, plush private club for lunch.

George gave his witness first. Then John. By now, I wanted to tell what was happening to me—unload, so to speak, and remind them that “total commitment” would have to wait a bit, because, “I had to be practical.”

John then said: “Weaver, can’t you trust Christ for everything? I do, and this is where the joy comes.”

That afternoon, in my car, I was miserable. I was parked on a busy Dallas street, sitting there reading the Letter to the Hebrews, when I made my decision • for Christ, based on something I read in the Scriptures “Do you want the praise of men or the approval of God?”

I said: “I’ll take the approval of God—I know what men can and will do to me.”

I decided right there to throw my whole life on God’s promise and believe in the resurrected and living Saviour.

What a relief came! I knew for the first time that all my past sins were wiped out by my complete faith in this person of Jesus Christ. An assurance came into my heart for the first time in my life like nothing I had ever experienced. I wrote the word “Peace” in the margins of my Bible. From then on, everything I read spoke to me of a new and exciting idea that Christ was now actually living in me. Now He had a surrendered vessel through whom He could do His own work. For the first time, I recognized that I had become a part of the “Body of Christ.”

My whole family situation changed! My work and ministry took on excitement and real purpose. God has blessed me with power as I share the name and person of my Christ with everyone who will listen to this Good News for Modern Man.

Looking back, I can see how marvelously God worked to bring me into His Kingdom.

Someone—a Christian friend—saw my struggle and called for help on my behalf. God provided a man whom I did not know to set the stage for life’s greatest drama and miracle. About six months earlier, two businessmen in the downtown area got together to pray, as to how they could be used to witness to other businessmen. Little did they know how God was going to use them. Soon there were three. It was these three who got my attention.

They were honest! They talked straight to me, a preacher, about Christ. But, how?

First, they thought of me as a person—not a title. I stood in need of God’s grace in spite of the fact that I was on the staff of a local Methodist Church. I was not infallible. More especially, I did not have the last word on the doctrines of the Bible. This is where laymen and preachers become equal. In spite of my “theological training,” the Gospel of Grace is not automatically dispensed to those of “much learning.” In I Corinthians 1:21, it says: “For God in His wisdom made it impossible for men to know Him by means of their own wisdom. Instead, God decided to save those who believe … for what seems to be God’s foolishness is wiser than men’s wisdom, and what seems to be God’s weakness is stronger than men’s strength.”

The Grace of God is a gift. It must be received and accepted on the basis of faith plus nothing.

Second, these three laymen talked to me honestly. They were “pretty sure” I was not a “born again” believer, and started praying for me. God could reach me when they couldn’t. But God had also shown them how they could witness to me. As my friend later told me, “He needed to be God’s love letter to me.”

They came honestly to me with their witness, armed with choice Scripture sentences like these: “He that hath the Son hath life; he that hath not the Son hath not life.” “For by grace are we saved; it is the gift of God and that not of works lest any man should boast.”

At first, I was defensive to think that they would question my “religion.” This was a pretty good indication that their guess was not too far wrong; that I did, indeed, stand in need of God’s Grace. God did the “saving.” I received Christ later that same day. They didn’t need to push me into a corner or into an argument. Their witness and the Scripture had its effect.

God used three laymen to reach a preacher who, in all sincerity, thought he was a Christian and had been working “for” God for 20 years. And therein lies the difference. When I asked Christ to come into my life, I no longer thought I was a Christian, I knew I was “born spiritually” forever. I am no longer working “for” God—God finally has me as a vessel through whom He can do His own work.

The tables are turned. Laymen have become my “spiritual advisors,” my friends, and my prayer partners. I shall be forever grateful to them for introducing me to the Saviour. And, they taught me how to lead a person to Christ.

If there is a preacher or a layman who does not know how to lead another to Christ, let me share what these three laymen taught me. The only way a person becomes a Christian is to receive Christ. One receives Him only by asking Christ to come into his life. This fact is revealed in Revelation 3:20: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in.” That’s a fact! God does not lie! It happens every time! Whenever a person really asks Christ to come in, Christ comes as Holy Spirit who forgives, cleanses, and assures. The Spirit of God does the “birthing.”

If you, reader, have never experienced this spiritual birth, stop right now, and say aloud: “Lord Jesus, forgive my sins. I open the door of my life and receive you as my Saviour and Lord. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be. Thank you for coming into my life and hearing my prayer as you promised.”

You, Mr. Layman, “go, then, to all people everywhere and make them my disciples … I will be with you always …” (Matthew 28:19)


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