9/24/12 Phil, Nick, Angelo late teens
Three teens were hanging out and smoking pot on a bench at the park. I went over and asked if they were willing to answer a crazy question - "What do you think happens after this life?" I don't think they had talked about this with each other before, but the consensus was that they would be reincarnated into another living being of some sort, depending on what they did in this life. They seemed sure of this, but a few questions put them in doubt: "Do you believe you had a life before this? Do you remember it? If you can't, was it really you that lived that life? Who decides how you lived this life and where you will live the next?" They did their best to answer them, but began to see that they would still be accountable to a higher power in the end. At this point one of the three, Angelo, asked me "How about you? What do you believe?" I told them that I'm a Christian and go to church nearby, and that my beliefs come from the Bible. "Do you get your beliefs from any sort of outside authority?" I asked. They didn't, and soon forgot their talk of reincarnation and began talking about what they knew of Christianity. I think they half-expected me to condemn them or chastise them for their pot-smoking or lack of church involvement, but when asked how they thought God might judge them they agreed He would say they have "good hearts'. They felt condemned by Christians but accepted by God. They needed the opposite - to be able to relate to Christians as people also in need of forgiveness, and to be able to listen long enough to know that forgiveness comes through faith in God's Son. A focus on the standard of the Ten Commandments helped with this, because we all share guilt in breaking them. They didn't feel put on the spot for sins not common to church people, yet they understood how they have broken God's law and need forgiveness, which helped them understand their need for Christ. I left them with my contact info and an invitation to call me with any questions. I believe they just might, because my focus on the Ten Commandments helped them understand that even though I'm a church guy, we still share a common need for Jesus.