11/27/10 Stephan and Kwame , 21, 16
I met John, from church, for a "fishing expedition". We went to a park where we ran into two African-American young men, Stephan and his younger brother Kwame. I asked about their beliefs and they came up with various theories about life after death, involving reincarnation or ghosts trying to complete unfinished work from their first life. Even though they grew up in a Baptist church, which Kwame still attends, they said they just don't take it very seriously, citing the hypocrisy of the pastor, the multitude of other beliefs, and their doubts about the divine inspiration of the Bible. Stephan affirmed that he believes in God but doesn't want to end up in hell "for believing the wrong thing". Many people think Christianity teaches that people will be punished primarily for their sin, not for wrong beliefs, which tends to make them think God is unreasonable and therefore unbelievable. I used an analogy about the lack of a parachute being blamed for death caused by jumping out of an airplane, when in reality such a death is caused by defying the law of gravity in the first place. In the same way we defy God's law, so for us it becomes the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2) We must cast off the sin that entangles us and hold unto Jesus like we are holding on to a parachute. As I described all this both brothers were in agreement - intellectually - but I could see they were holding back so I asked "What is it that keeps you from putting your faith in Jesus today? Stephan was honest - "Would I have to give up smoking marijuanna? Is it sinful?" This started another discussion that let me know they were starting to count the cost of following Jesus.