3/29/13 Ray, Jerry both retired
In order to start witnessing conversations with strangers, I usually start very general, asking about their views on life after death. Today I mixed it up a bit, and began by asking Ray and Jerry - two older gentlemen at the park - “What does Good Friday mean to you?” Their answer reminded me of why I find it important to find common ground and lay a right foundation with general questions about eternity, God’s existence and our relationship to Him. Beyond their initial answer that Good Friday is a reminder of Jesus’ death on the cross, everything they said beyond that was subject to their interpretation – whether it happened, why it happened, what it really meant. Instead of approaching the Gospel in a logical progression from general to specific, I had begun with a specific question that only led from one tangled mess to another. Jesus described the problem best when he said in Matthew 7:6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” Just as pigs don’t appreciate the value of pearls, unbelievers don’t appreciate the value of the cross. Why should they? They don’t understand their sin and their need for forgiveness. They need a basic foundation to be established - built on God’s authority and moral law, their own sin and rebellion against Him, and God’s judgment – before they will appreciate the Pearl of Great Price. We had a friendly discussion, but in their own way Ray and Jerry “turned and tore to pieces” every argument I presented for Christ. I was like a farmer who goes out and scatters his seed without first breaking the ground with the plow – I hadn’t used the moral authority of God’s law to “till the rocky soil” of their hearts to prepare them for the seed of the Gospel. I hadn’t done the work of an evangelist. I eventually was able to share the Gospel - haphazardly - but I’m afraid it made about as much sense as tilling the ground after the seeds have been sown, or trying to teach a pig to appreciate pearls after they’ve already trampled them in the mud. I’m going back to my same general question about eternity and using the law to help people see their need for the Savior. No more shortcuts. There can be no resurrection without the cross, and there is no need for the cross without the law.