Alive in Christ
Meet Kyle Doerr, a 21-year-old nursing student at the University of Nebraska Omaha. Kyle loves Jesus and is committed to reading and studying his Bible. He regularly and prayerfully yields himself to the leading of the Holy Spirit and confesses his sin and responds in repentance and faith. He immerses himself in the family of God and has gospel-centered, Christ-exalting relationships with men and women. Kyle is burdened for lost people, both locally and globally, who don’t know the everlasting joy of salvation in Christ. Kyle is following and becoming more like Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit to the glory of God.
However, Kyle has not always been this man. It wasn’t long ago that Kyle was wandering and lost without a purpose and identity, and chiefly, without Jesus. Kyle grew up in a Christian home. He attended a local church, listened to sermons, sang songs about God, and closed his eyes and bowed his head. On the surface, like many Nebraskans, he lived the good life. He didn’t have much to worry about, didn’t fear about tomorrow, was an exceptional athlete in high school, was a good student, and had a semblance of faith in a higher power.
For all of Kyle’s goodness and success, there was something tragically wrong. He was without hope in the eyes of God. He didn’t trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to free him from the penalty and power of sin and grant him new life. He was oblivious, indifferent, spiritually dead, and bound for a Christless eternity. However, God looked upon Kyle and delighted in him. He chose him, sought him, and saved him.
In the winter of 2017, Kyle reached a low point. “I had gone through a difficult breakup, felt a sense of worthlessness and emptiness, and knew I needed something more than myself. Something much bigger than me.” He reached out to his friend Morgan, who recommended Christ Community Church. Morgan connected him with Adam, an 8:08 College Ministry student leader. Adam connected with Kyle and they went to dinner and then a UNO hockey game. A friendship was born, woven by God’s sovereign grace. Despite all their similarities, Kyle noticed that he and Adam were fundamentally different. He shared, “Adam had a massive desire to chase after Jesus, while I didn’t.”
Adam invited Kyle to meet other students in the 8:08 College Community, where he was immersed in unfamiliar territory. He saw Christian students who lived as though they weren’t the most important person in their story. These students considered themselves as secondary characters in their own stories and God as the main character. Their lives showed that they trusted and delighted in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Redeemer and King. This was peculiar, but irresistible. Kyle didn’t run away, but rather found himself hungry to know more.
When I met Kyle after a Thursday night college worship gathering, I sensed an eagerness and anticipation in him. He was slowly but surely responding to the work of the Spirit in his heart. I could tell by his demeanor he wasn’t afraid to talk about God, engage in a real conversation about faith, and be honest. His hard heart was being softened, the scales were falling from his eyes. We later met in March 2018 at a coffeehouse, shared our stories, and found common ground. After some time, I asked Kyle what I ask every college student I meet. I asked him what every Christ-following, God-fearing, Spirit-filled believer should ask the people they form a relationship with: “My life has been changed by Jesus Christ—can I tell you why?”
I will never forget what happened next. I was reminded that my calling to proclaim grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone is not dependent upon my goodness or sin, my charisma or stammering, my persuasiveness, my appearance, or my intellect. I proceeded to share what mankind has regarded as foolishness for thousands of years, but what God has regarded as wisdom and truth and salvation forevermore! I shared the good news with Kyle. Author and pastor Timothy Keller summed it up this way: “We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” After two hours of conversation, I invited Kyle to respond in faith to the free gift of grace extended to him in the finished work of Jesus.
Kyle’s response was nothing short of miraculous: “In that very moment, my heart was screaming nothing but to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior and lay down my life for him. On that very afternoon, I prayed to God and surrendered my life to him. This was the greatest decision I have ever made in my entire life and I truly believe this is the best decision anybody can make in their entire life.”
After much rejoicing in his new life, Kyle experienced the struggles of sin, the trials of life, relationships, and academic performance which attempted to steal his joy. Shame and guilt were pervasive in his heart, and the default condition of Midwestern religiosity set back in. Kyle’s faith was tested and he was tempted to return to a church-attending, song-singing, head-bowing, good-feeling faith where he didn’t need constant rescuing, he was basically good if he tried hard, and God was “a little closer” than before, none of which solved his problem of spiritual death.
By his grace, God faithfully and gently ministered to Kyle’s heart in this season. He shared, “It is indescribable in words, but I realized the sufficiency of Scripture. I trusted two passages specifically. Ephesians 2:4–5 says, ‘But God, being rich in mercy because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.’ Titus 3:4–6 says, ‘But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of the works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.’ God has encouraged me abundantly through his Word in these passages. I’ve realized that Christianity is not people who make bad decisions making better ones. It’s not ‘bad’ people becoming ‘good’ people, or morally questionable people becoming morally flawless. No—Christianity is about God bringing dead people to life through the work of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Kyle Doerr was brought to life in Jesus Christ. To publicly declare his new life, he was baptized on November 25, 2018. His desires, plans, and worldview are completely different, and this is not because he pulled himself up by his bootstraps and took religion a little more seriously, but because he has been reborn, redeemed, and adopted by the King of Kings. To God be the glory!
Thank you, Christ Community Church, for your love, generosity, prayer, and participation in seeing 8:08 College Community obey the Great Commission here in Omaha.
Glenn Lawson is the College Pastor at Christ Community Church
For more info about CCC's 8:08 College Ministry, visit cccomaha.org/college or follow 8:08 on social media @808CCC.
If you've recently committed your life to Christ, or if you've never been baptized as an adult, learn more about baptism or sign up to get baptized at cccomaha.org/baptism.