Interview with David Kessell
For this week’s interview I interviewed a close friend of mine, a guy who really shines as a Christian. I hope he doesn’t mind me saying, but he doesn’t get it right all the time but that doesn’t matter. He is always an encouraging, loving and wonderful fellow to know who reveals more of what God is like:
So, not meaning to be rude, how old are you?
72, 73 in December
How long have you been a Christian?
I was brought up in an Anglican Church
How long have you been an ‘active’ Christian?
Roughly 20 years
What do you do day-to-day?
I share the housework and chores with my wife, serving the Lord as we do so. Before my ill health, though, I had an active part in a prayer ministry in Guildford.
The parable we’re looking at is the one where Jesus talks about being salt and light. What does he mean when he says his followers are salt?
Salt makes a great difference to food and health. On food, if there’s no salt it’s bland, everything tastes the same and it doesn’t satisfy. Having salt in our food is also essential for our health. We’re to reflect this, we’re to be different, and give flavour to the world by blessing and changing it. Christ’s followers are essential to the world.
So, how are we meant to be salt?
Salt makes a difference, as it changes the nature of food. We can make a difference by changing the nature of society to a place that is more attractive. We can input by improving people’s views by just being there with them.
What’s your experience with being, or encountering, salty Christians?
A friend of mine, who was healed by God, became salt to me when I saw his lifestyle and I decided that I wanted what he had.
When I became a Christian, I upset a lot of people. I was very bold and not very sensitive. I opened my mouth when I shouldn’t have. Steadily, Christianity affected my thoughts, beliefs and the way I lived. I prayed and read the bible more but I wasn’t an evangelist except in my family, who I’d upset.
Jesus then says we’re to be light, what does he mean?
Well, put simply without light you don’t know where you’re going, where you are or where you’ve been. When you become a Christian, you see this. The effect this has on others is that they notice you know where you’re going and that you’ve changed. You don’t always show who God is by preaching the word but by acting and living it out.
And how do we go about shining?
When you go around town, you can see many people who are dead and lost with nowhere to go in life. We shine into these lives by the grace we show others and by what we say. However, it’s mainly about what we do. For example, you could pay a friend’s bills if you’ve got the cash and your friend doesn’t, you could be honest and encourage others, could moderate how much you drink, and you could extend forgiveness to others.
Can we lose our shine and never get it back?
If we lose our shine, we start walking in the world’s way. But we can return to God, like the prodigal, and ask for forgiveness. There is only one way of ever losing God, and that’s by blaspheming against his Holy Spirit and totally denying his existence (this isn’t similar to doubting whether he’s around or not).
If a person seeks God, it’s always possible to return if you humble yourself and repent. In the bible there are numerous situations where God reinstated people who looked like they’d completely blown it, such as Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33:16) and Peter (John 21:15-19). These situations give us hope and help remind us that true repentance always brings about renewal. It’s only us who exclude ourselves from returning to God.
Do you know practical ways to reflect God’s glory?
Yeah, showing an interest in people, smiling and speaking to people like the Big Issue guys. Be ready to catch people’s eye. On a spiritual level: praying, genuinely, for people you might meet that day.
What if we’re not exuberant and loud, can we still make an impact?
Oh yeah! I think extending grace is a way we can shine: not judging, because it’s always easy to think God wouldn’t want to save so and so. However, that’s not Christ’s way and we shouldn’t be in the practice of condemning.
Is God shining through us dependant on us being good?
No. We’re all going to screw up. We try not to because when we do things against God’s best for us we reflect God badly and people will judge us (e.g. if we’re legless every Saturday night).
How can we change to shine more/be saltier?
The more we read the bible, pray and become like Jesus the shinier we get. I’m not an angler but if I wanted to I’d want to go out and buy the equipment and get the license: I would imitate other anglers. To become more like Jesus, we need to find out more about who he. We can do this by spending time with him, reading the bible and spending time with more mature Christians.
What practical steps would you suggest seekers (those looking for God) or sleepy Christians (Christians who believe in Jesus but don’t want to fully engage) take in order to live for God?
With regards to non-Christians, they’ve got to make a decision as to whether God’s way is the best way for them or not. If it is, then be convinced there’s truth in the bible. There is clear evidence that there is truth there, by the fact that there’s prophecies that refer to Jesus’ coming 500 years before he did.
With regards to sleepy Christians, they’re moving backwards and are more inclined to fall back into worldly ways. They know they have to change and they think it’s too much of an effort…but it isn’t! When you become a dedicated Christian you realise you don’t want that bad stuff in your life anymore and that Jesus will always reach down and help you up.
If you know a sleepy Christian, you can always ask whether they’re happy. If they’re not, then encourage them to mix with the right people, read the bible and listen to Christian radio, but be wary of listening to ‘over the top’ Christian views.
When you start to find God or become an active Christian try and, continue to try, to put Jesus into every situation: health, relationships, forgiveness (including yourself and, sometimes, God), extend grace, spend time with others and encourage them.
Going back to forgiving God, this is sometimes because you think he’s done you wrong via circumstances in your life. When I was four, my mum died and I really struggled with that. That, for me, was a big thing to forgive God for.
Thank you, David, for your honesty, time and wisdom. It was a privilege to hear what you’ve got to say.