Not So Easy Lay-Up
I have renewed acquaintance with an old school chum after a hiatus of many years. We chatted at my Dad's funeral. He began including me in his e-mail circulars. He was fascinated to discover that his second-stringer team-mate in basketball had gotten religion.
My friend invited a dialogue on spirituality over the internet. His past disciplines were philosophy and history. It became apparent that he could only see Jesus as one of many great thinkers. He denied His divinity. Thought that God and heaven could not be proved. Indicated that his life ethic was to be the best that he could be. Saw Church as a place for priests/pastors to condemn and manipulate. Saw the doctrine of substitutionary atonement as a crutch for weaklings who never expected to get much out of life and had simply decided to trust. Miserable, lack-lustre, self-deprecating 'sinners saved by grace'.
In all of these pronouncements my friend has remained specific and courteous. He has had some background with Gospel faith and has opted out.
From the beginning I have understood that I cannot convert him through debate or sales pitch. I realize that to go to Bible proof texts in support of my experience and the Gospel way is to direct this man to something which he does not consider authoritative. (I know that some friends would insist that 'the word of God never comes back void', but discretion must still be exercised.) The Holy Spirit must get involved (and is involved) in drawing him.
But here is what I can do. I can chronicle how the scriptures puzzled me, attracted me, convicted me and ultimately won me. I can suggest that a "catch you later, Jesus" attitude is as offensive to Holy God as overt wrongdoing. I can confirm that I have found a man's man in the Lord. One who was up for any constructive debate, any cry for merciful help; up for forgiving his friends when they disappointed Him, up for remaining silent before unworthy judges, up for the humiliation and terrors of the Cross. And somehow in all of this doing in His earth walk of 33 years he was doing it for me. That I might join a family of faith and share in its inheritance...forever.
Even as I write this blog Jesus is my confidant, priest, guide and care-giver.
I must avoid "Christianese" in my choice of words. He has heard the "Roman Road" lingo and considers it just a part of mystifying priest-craft as in any other cult. He is a smart, healthy, sensitive and enthusiastic man. He cannot believe that armed in this fashion he may be handicapped in receiving the greatest of all gifts, a gift which he cannot see, touch, hear or rationalize...for the present.
But then, things change, and that is where God comes in.