7/2/12 Lloyd, about 45
Today I had a sidewalk conversation with Lloyd, who said he is a Levite Jew with ancestry dating back 3000 years to the original priestly tribe of Levi. When asked about his spiritual beliefs his original response was one of scorn for spiritual things: "Forget the afterlife. What about this life? What do you think of the Healthcare bill?" When pressed about his beliefs however, he proudly claimed not just special privileges as a Levite Jew, but special knowledge and insights that "you just wouldn't understand as a Christian". He assumed that I would feel animosity towards Jews so I told him my favorite account about Jesus and His encounter with the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15. At a time when Jesus' ministry focused on the Jewish people, she came to him as a Gentile asking for her demon-possessed daughter to be healed. Jesus said "It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” I told Lloyd that as a Gentile myself I relate to that Canaanite woman. I believe I don't have the same promises and blessings that the Jewish people have had, but I am grateful for God's great gift of salvation in Jesus that has come through his chosen people. I said, "Still, God has no grandchildren. No matter what privileges you think you may have as a Levite Jew, you still need to have your own right relationship with God". Lloyd just sort of ignored this however, claiming he really doesn't even believe in God - "except sometimes when I pray" - he told me. He continued to boast of his political connections and the benefits of being in an inside circle that one can only be born into. He also boasted several times that it would be impossible for me to convert him to Christianity. I cheerfully told him, "No, I understand that's a miracle that only God can do in anyone's life, no matter what their background'. But this conversation helped me better understand Jesus' anger toward the stubborn hearts he found around Him 2000 years ago and, Jew or Gentile, they are still with us today.