Gladstone

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Georgia

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Jerry Gladson
Marietta First Christian Church
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Story

The summer after the first year of high school something happened that changed the direction of my life. My passion for reading led me, inexplicably, to a religious book entitled Lambs among Wolves. I was reading lots of sports biographies and novels at the time, not religious books, which I carefully avoided in view of my anticipated departure from the church. But something about this book attracted me. The book, in fact, seemed to compel me to read it.

JerryGladstone.jpg (19823 bytes)Under a shade tree in the front yard on a hot afternoon, I started reading Lambs among Wolves. Our house, a two-storied, white frame structure, nestled modestly among tall scrubs and oak trees, fronted a dusty road. When cars drove by, dust wafted over the front lawn and seeped into the open, screened windows, leaving a residue on the chairs and tables. We had no air conditioning, so on hot summer afternoons I often found a spot under one of the trees to indulge in reading.

Meade MacGuire, a popular writer, in this book used the metaphor of sheep and wolves. The sheep, he declared, were the Christians; the wolves, the unconverted. When one becomes a Christian, he pointed out, he or she becomes a sheep. One acts like a sheep. One lives like a sheep. One has the tastes of a sheep. One does not continue to act like a wolf. If so, the person has not really been converted. MacGuire’s metaphor struck me with deep conviction. I suddenly, strangely, against all my natural desires, wanted to be a sheep. I knew I was a wolf, although by most standards, I was not excessively wicked. Inside, however, I knew I had been going in the wrong direction. On that hot summer day, I no longer wanted a "wolf" kind of life. Not really knowing what to do, I stammeringly made a commitment to change. Wayne Oates remarks that some conversions are constructive, and lead to reconciliation and positive change in a person’s life, while others are fruitless, abrasive, and bring misery to the individual and those around them. Mine was definitely constructive, because my life changed for the good. I returned to church, started reading the Bible and praying regularly. I became more cooperative toward my parents, and began to treat my sister and brother with respect, something I had not always done before!

One day, while I was talking with another high school classmate. She paused, interrupting me in mid-sentence. Smiling, looking me in the eye, she asked, "Jerry, what do you plan to be when you graduate?"

It was a good question, one that high school students often ask each other and themselves. I had thought about it, but never expressed what I was beginning to feel, because I knew my father had his heart set on my becoming a civil engineer. "A minister," I replied, surprising even myself.

Excerpt from Jerry's book: A Theologian's Journey from Seventh-day Adventism to Mainstream Christianitypp. 21-23
Copyright Jerry Gladson 2000, used with permission.

 

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