3/19/13 Yorn 50
Late evening at the grocery store is a much more relaxed time to initate Gospel conversations, as Brad (from church) and I experienced tonight. One man we reached out to turned out to be a businessman from Germany, named Yorn (spelling?). He expressed a common criticism of his understanding of the Gospel: “I refuse to be religious just for fire insurance from hell” he said in so many words. “I do a lot of good non-religious things simply because it’s the right thing to do, and to do them just to avoid hell would be the wrong motivation.” Yorn clung to the belief that he simply does good out of the kindness of his heart, and though he says he doesn’t believe in heaven or hell, he is sure that if it does exist God would know what a good heart he has. What to tell him? I began by referring to 2 Thessalonians 1, which tells us what is truly fearful about hell – that not only will we be “punished with everlasting destruction” but we will also be “shut out from the presence of the Lord”. I emphasized that the desire to avoid hell is not just the selfish (and wise!) desire to avoid the pain of punishment, it is also the desire to avoid being cut off from fellowship with God. (Though I realize that non-believers don’t have fellowship with God in the first place; but many think they do – only it is with a god of their own imagination that requires little of them) Then I talked of the real reason for doing good deeds – not as “fire insurance” to avoid hell, but as a Spirit-led response to salvation. I told Yorn that I don’t have to go through life wondering if I have done enough good to be saved, but I have the privilege of going through life doing good because I am saved. “It’s an expression of thanks” I told him. “It’s just the right thing to do in response to the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf on the cross.” This wasn’t the answer Yorn expected. It clearly got him thinking, and he began to ask all about our church, wanting to know more. Please pray that God will greatly use what he heard at the grocery store tonight!