5/14/11 "Ishaya" about 55
Was it possible for John the Baptist to have a religious conversation in polite company? He preached repentance, wasn't afraid to confront those of a higher social status than himself about their sin and rebellion toward God, and was beheaded because of it. In a way his may have been a different role than a typical Christian evangelist, because he was to "make straight the way for the Lord", preaching the bad news of our need for repentance before people could be ready for the good news of faith - and forgiveness - in Jesus. Yet there are people all around us who still need to hear John's message even today. Many have been inundated with news of the Savior without seeing the need to be saved. Today my wife and I, celebrating our anniversary at a bed and breakfast, had a friendly, polite and respectful - yet not compromising - conversation with our host, "Ishaya" (not her real name), who turned out to be a teacher of "Ascension" - a new age spiritual meditational technique. She and her husband - both Americans who have taken Sansrit names as part of their vows as Ascension teachers - deny the existence of sin, accountability to God, judgment, punishment, and, of course, the need for Jesus as savior. Theirs is a religion of life enhancement - personal happiness - rather than righteousness. How can we talk about such things in polite company and stay true to both the law and grace of the Gospel? Here's a few thoughts... 1.) I began by asking about her spiritual journey. I knew she had some spiritual interest and that she would be glad to talk about it. We let her share her views without judgment or criticism 2.) I acknowledged that our nodding and affirmations of understanding are not the same as agreement. By saying this she knew that I didn't necessarily agree with her views, and she felt free to listen and understand but not necessarily agree with mine. 3.) I explained our perspective as Christians concerned for her salvation. How could we believe what we believe about our need for Jesus - whether its true or not - and not share the greatest news ever? and 4.) I may hope and pray for it but shouldn't expect a complete change of one's world view in one simple conversation. We were simply planting seeds of truth, and we felt privileged to be able to do that today - and didn't burn any conversational bridges in the process.