Preacher: An Invested Christian

What exactly is an invested Christian you ask? Let me tell you about one. His name is Truman and he was my “Pop” who just passed away over three weeks ago. His life was finally the catalyst I needed to get this blog launched. His life provided the humbling realization that I will never be as good as him; I blew that idea up long ago. I don’t know that anyone shy of Jesus himself could fill those shoes. I certainly don’t have a shot. However, that realization spurred me on to do what I am able.

Just so that you can begin to understand this man, I’ll give you a little bit of information on his life. He was born in October of 1921 in a town just shy of Harrisonburg, VA. (One of my favorite places on Earth, I might add!) He grew up pretty poor on a farm with many brothers in sisters, where he worked very hard. When World War II erupted, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps where he was present at the battle at Okinawa, as well as staying and being involved in battles at Guam and Guadalcanal. This was an experience that made him in many ways and yet wounded him in others. He returned, later married, and ended up in South Carolina. He never graduated college, unlike his wife, although his mind was as inquisitive as any academic.

It was only a few years ago when I found out about his nickname – “Preacher” – that he gained from listening to his preachers on Sunday mornings. Apparently, Truman aspired to this worthy role while growing up in Virginia. The only issue was that he was pretty shy and extraordinarily humble. An ordinary pulpit simply would not do. So, true to his nature, Truman circumvented this tiny little obstacle by living a life of preaching by demonstration and not by words. His noble occupation was not preacher, but factory worker. Truman became a part of the WWII American middle class that would become known simply as the Greatest Generation.

Truman invested time in his family, friends, pets, garden, work, and life. In his eulogy in our local paper, we wanted to extoll his ability to fix both things and people. In describing his life, the line my cousin came up with went like “He lived his life one way, the right way…love all, hate nothing.

His ironically enlarged heart (part of the actual cause of death), dealt with the terrible curse then known as “Soldier’s Heart” or “Shell Shock,” but which we now call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It was very, very difficult for that heart to reconcile death of both friends and enemies – souls – with his own survival and involvement. What seemed to bother him the most was the death of a soldier friend from Jersey who was accidentally crushed in a gruesome manner. Now he believed in and understood heaven, but he saw more than most just how messy this life can be.

Deep down, I think this turned some large wheel in his soul. It’s what happens with great men of God.

Pop’s eulogies from family, friends, and acquaintances always involved that smile and his drive to talk to anyone. Cashiers remembered the man by their conversations. A mailman of a different skin color stopped to lament the loss and recall the conversations about God that they shared. A neighbor of still another skin color from down the road cut his grass and cleaned up the yard as he had previously promised before Pop passed; he even did it without the accompanying charge after he recovered from the shock of the news. (My family, of course, paid the man after they explained their wishes.) His family doctor was notably upset. His local Lion’s Club leader called him a hero. Men he met and worked with years ago came to say goodbye. People in different places posted comments online even if they had not seen him for decades.

Pop simply had no biases. Sex, skin color, standing, money – none of that mattered in a town where names sometime matter terribly. He invested in the people he talked to, each and every last one. He told them about God, even if done indirectly, as was usually the case. He showed them God because he wanted to check on them both physically and spiritually. His persona could not help but radiate the Spirit. His conversations were simple, often funny, but they conveyed much more. As Christians, that’s what we do. Start simple. We invest in others.

Colossians 4:6 NIV

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Jesus is simple. This verse doesn’t mean that we have all of the theological formulas worked out and that understand that grand concept or that hard-to-pronounce term. It certainly does not mean we need to be ready to preach the perfect powerpoint sermon at all times. Instead, we realize that simple answers often make the most sense. Let’s just begin by talking Jesus and showing Jesus. Just like when we invest in something in the financial world, we prepare and make the call to buy, sell, hold, or trade. If we don’t know the information, we get help. An invested Christian will always invest the time and effort into people, even if it’s just a simple conversation. You may never see that person again, but if you invest the time, that tiny little seed will be planted and God will water it just as He promises. Pop acted on the above verse from Colossians 4:6. He deduced the formula for being a Christian investor by just starting simple. He realized that investing time by talking, smiling, and meeting people where they are mattered the most.

God is not looking for Christian speculators. God is looking for investors.


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