10/17/12 Tom about 35
I stopped for some groceries after work today, hoping to also initiate a witnessing conversation while shopping. A middle aged man named Tom was happy to talk about his beliefs. He told about the intense guilt he had after a petty theft as a child that kept him from ever stealing again. He described how tremendously grateful to God he is for all he has been given, and how he humbly repents of any wrongdoing. He also talked about how, although he has a science background, he sees evidence in creation for God rather than against. All this seemed good, but something was missing. He seemed like a classic example of a "pleaser" - someone whose very nature is to please those in authority above him, such as God. I've sometimes wondered if those who come to faith in Christ have some common denominator such as a character trait like this. Are more Christians passive or type A? First-born or the baby of the family? I don't think so. I don't believe we Christians have anything like these things in common. The outward behavior might be different, but rebels as well as pleasers alike either accept or reject the Lord. In Tom's case, even though outwardly he seems to act in a way that would indicate his faithful obedience, I found that no matter what we talked about he avoided the idea of a living, active faith in Jesus. Underlying all his repentance, gratitude and obedience, Tom had a subtle pride and confidence in his own goodness. His faith was not in Jesus' work on the cross but in his own works of goodness in its place. Rebel or pleaser, it doesn't matter. Like anyone else, Tom still needs the miraculous change of heart that only comes from being born anew in the Spirit - through repentance and faith in Jesus.