11/9/12 Rudy, about 20
I was walking through a parking lot when sedan with darkly tinted windows pulled up and parked in front of me, music blaring. As the driver - a young man named Rudy - got out I used a million dollar tract to start a conversation. I told him about the question on the back – “Will you go to heaven?” – and he brightened up, telling me that he is a Christian and about the evangelical church and Bible studies he attends. I have learned to avoid assuming people are biblical Christians simply from their outward activities, so I pressed on – “So I have to ask, how can you be sure you will go to heaven?” “Well, I’ve asked God for forgiveness” was all Rudy could think to say. I’ve met too many people who simply think “God is supposed to forgive” – like He owes us something – but think nothing of the tremendous price He paid on the cross for that forgiveness or our need for repentance. After trying for a while to find out if Rudy had any further understanding of the faith he claims, I tried a different approach. “Suppose I had come up to you asking how I can be saved, what would you tell me?” He thought for a while. “I would invite you to church” was his answer. As I asked more about Rudy’s beliefs, reminding him that forgiveness comes through repentance and faith in Jesus, I came to the opinion that he really is a Christian but just can’t seem to verbalize his faith. This is far too common in our “evangelical” churches. Evangelism for many seems to be what the pastor does up front at the end of his sermon. The work of those in the pews is limited to inviting people to church, rather than sharing the Gospel themselves. But Paul said in 1 Cor. 3 that it is a team effort orchestrated by God; “…neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service…” Young people like Rudy need older Christians to set an example for them in sharing our faith that goes beyond inviting people to our meetings. Only then will they become doers of the word, and not hearers only. I challenged Rudy to strive to share his faith himself, rather than just inviting people to church. I believe my words had added impact, because they came in the context of demonstrating exactly what it was I was challenging him to do.