Ron Cantor was not a drug addict or a failed gambler. He was not miserable, empty, or desperate. He was just a nice Jewish-American kid with a solid family life. Ron Cantor was none of the things we expect born-again Christians to be when he embraced Jesus Christ, but he took on a route that lead him to rebel against everything he knew. This is a Jew who found Jesus.
A drug addict finds himself at the end of his rope and he turns to God. Or, how about a prisoner in jail? He suddenly realizes what a mess his life is and starts to pray. Is that how people find God? They hit rock bottom and out of guilt or frustration or desperation they sense their need for a creator in their lives.
My story is quite the opposite. I hated religion and had what I considered a great life. I had lots of friends, went to parties and did wild and crazy things. The last thing I wanted to talk to any about was religion! I mean honestly, just about everyone I knew who was religious just seemed so boring and stuffy… that is until my best friend Bryan gave his life to Jesus.
Bryan was different than other religious people I had met. He was excited, happy and focused. Even still, my life was all about having fun. Bryan could have his Jesus… but don’t bother me with that stuff. Besides, I am Jewish! What could Jesus and Judaism have in common?
Despite the fact that I had a great life, watching Bryan caused me to ask myself a few questions:
- Is there a God?
- If so, what does He expect of me?
- And how can I find Him?
I suddenly realized how irresponsible I had been. For example, someone will spend a lifetime preparing for retirement. They will plan, save and all this for a period that sometimes only last a few years! We call this person responsible – and rightly so. However, most of us will spend a lifetime getting ready for our earthly retirement and never consider the golden years following this life. I realized, simply as a human being, that I had been irresponsible to never seek the truth.
I needed to find out if God was real, and if so, is he in Jesus, Judaism, somewhere else? (I would find out that in fact, it was both). Of course even if I found God, I would have another problem: I didn’t want to be religious. I loved my life just the way it was. In this tension between wanting to know God and keep my fun life I asked Bryan one day, “Is your life really better now that you believe in Jesus?” Here is what I assumed he would say:
No, my life is pretty boring. But when I die I will go to heaven.
You see, I thought the only reason anyone would ever turn to God was in order to secure a spot in eternity and escape hell – if it exists. Why else would anyone be interested in God? However, Bryan responded to me unexpectedly:
Ron, I know God! I have a relationship with God. My life is so much better now!
It shocked me. I knew the life Bryan had before. Like me, he was happy. He was not seeking a better life, but here he was telling me that serving God is better than serving myself.
I finally was at point where I had to know the truth. In October I found myself in a movie theater with a friend from college watching a film about Jesus. It was quite impactful, but I understand the power of cinema. I wasn’t going to embrace Jesus because of a movie.
However on the way home I did something very unusual – something I can’t remember ever doing before—I prayed.
God, I believe You are real. A year ago I wasn’t sure, but now I am. I need to know how to serve You. Do I become a religious Jew? Orthodox? Or is Jesus the Messiah? If You show me, I will serve You.
As I was praying silently, my friend suddenly lost control of the car as we went around a curve. The car began to swerve from side to side and spun out of control. The car flipped over and we rolled to a stop.
Upside down, Dean and I made our way out of the car and walked to the road – Many people wrongly assume at this point that surviving the car accident is what caused me to embrace Jesus. Not at all, but I did think to myself: I finally pray and you try to kill me! It was what happened next that convinced me.
There was only one house in the area. A nice couple let us in and helped us. I quickly realized that these people were serious believers in Jesus. I began to ask questions and the wife quickly explained to me why Jesus came. “If He was the Son of God, the Messiah, how could they kill Him?” I asked.
She shared with me that He came to die. His purpose was to give His life as a sacrifice for our sins and that through Him we could have eternal life. I didn’t fully understand what she was saying—I was no Bible scholar, but as she spoke to me, something amazing happened. I began to feel the most amazing, irresistible power. It just kept getting stronger and stronger. It would not have been anymore real, had I stuck my wet hand in a live electrical current.
I realized that God had answered my prayer from the car just thirty minutes before when I asked Him to show me the truth. I dedicated my life to Jesus that night and received His forgiveness. I left that house a new person. And what I found that night was not religion—but a relationship with God.
Religion stresses duty. Do this. Do that. However in Jesus I found a person, not a system or rote tradition – I found the living, breathing Jewish Messiah in Jesus. I hope you will find Him too.