12/13/12 Marcela and boyfriend about 25
Just as pastors should be evangelists, evangelists should also be pastors. This is understandable in church gatherings, where everyone should be ready to be used by God to speak whatever is needed into the lives of others, from words of forgiveness and salvation to words of encouragement, comfort and challenge. But what about out on the street? Daily I encounter people who are at various places in their relationship with God. With some good questions and the patience to listen, I try to discern what might be the next step of each person’s spiritual journey. Some need to acknowledge God’s existence; some their personal sinful choices and need for forgiveness; others are believers and need encouragement and challenge in sharing their faith. A young couple I met today out on a downtown sidewalk had both grown up in Baptist churches because of the faithfulness of their grandmothers, and both admitted falling away from God after their grandmothers had passed away. Judging from their fashionable dress and mannerisms, Marcela and her boyfriend (I forgot his name) came across as very worldly at first, but quickly warmed up to a conversation about their faith. It seemed to spark memories of their churchgoing childhoods and the gospel truths they had learned but long since drifted away from. Marcela was particularly adamant that though she believed she was a Christian she would always still be sinful, partly in reaction to the hypocrisy of some friends she knew who call themselves “sanctified” – free of sin – but also in reaction to the sin in her own life. “As Christians” I explained, “if sin was like a swimming pool, we may have stopped diving in just for fun, but we might find ourselves accidently tripping and falling in once in a while. But all this really means is that we are walking too close to the edge of the pool, and as Christians part of what it means to follow Jesus is to avoid putting ourselves in tempting situations where it is easy to fall in to sin.” Saying this to a young couple obviously infatuated with each other, I could almost see the wheels spinning as they realized the implications of what I was saying to them. Despite their strong church backgrounds, I’m not sure either of these two were biblical Christians, but I still felt like I was just as much pastor as evangelist as I talked with them today.