3/22/14 Dan, Rich mid 20's
I walked by a coffeeshop and stopped to talk to two twenty-somethings at a table outside – Dan and Rich – who turned out to be rather hardened atheists. I was able to share gospel truths without argument, partly because I was a good listener and partly because early on I identified myself as a Christian and said “As a Christian I am compelled to share what the Bible teaches about salvation, but I am under no delusions that I can persuade anyone to believe it. I believe in the work of the Holy Spirit, and I just trust that if anyone comes to faith it is between them and God, so I feel free to listen to your beliefs and talk about my own without feeling like I have to force them on anyone”. I could tell these guys this because I truly believe it. I know people who have become believers for the most unexpected or illogical reasons - which is often how God works - and others who hear the most persuasive, reasonable, or clear arguments for Christianity and don’t seem to care at all. Some people seem to respond immediately only to fall away afterward, while others are cold or calloused at first but come to faith much later. More often, I think, a Gospel conversation is just one of a series of steps God uses in bringing people to Himself and His people. It’s not for us to know how the Spirit is at work in the hearts of others, but simply to faithfully share biblical truths. After I explained this to Dan and Rich, they felt free to share their beliefs, questions, and criticisms, and none of us felt personally attacked. This reliance on the work of the Holy Spirit is not, however, an excuse to avoid sharing the Gospel. Instead it should free us up to share it without all the added pressure of outward success we place on ourselves. Our success is only in our obedience, and it is a privilege to be a part of God’s plan for success in building His church all around us.