7/2/14 Reggie, Sarah early 20's
There was a time when I wouldn’t be caught dead walking over to a table of complete strangers at a coffeeshop and initiating a gospel conversation, and I know I’m not the only one. But that’s what I did today with relatively little fear or nervousness, and for those Christians who realize the Gospel is just too good to keep to themselves, I’d like to offer this one bit of advice that has made a world of difference to me: People love to talk about themselves. Unless they are completely absorbed in what they are doing or simply don’t have the time, most people in my experience are more than happy to answer honest and non-judgmental questions about their beliefs, and many go on to ask me about mine.
Not so with Reggie and Sarah today, two friends sitting at a coffeeshop table who answered my questions in such a way so as to deflect any concern about their eternal future or curiosity about the world’s origins, and simply claimed that all they cared about is being a decent, caring human being in the present. They both claimed to be “spiritual” but felt that if God was understandable or relatable to humans he wouldn’t be a God worth following. And despite my arsenal of interesting questions about their beliefs, they never once conveyed any sort of curiosity or caring about spiritual things. Was this a conversation worth having? Did I waste my time? I don’t believe so. I believe their lack of concern for their eternal future, despite being dishonest, was based not on a noble aspiration to simply be good for goodness sake rather than for punishment or reward, but on their mistaken idea that they are good enough for heaven. They were comfortable in their doubt, because they really didn’t doubt their own goodness, and I believe it was worth the effort to shake up that mistaken belief. How could I do this and still be true to my stated intention to “ask them a few questions”, despite their not having asked me for my opinion in return? I did it through the way I asked some of my questions, for example: “If what the Bible says is true, that we will all die and after that face God’s judgment, how do you think He would judge you? Would you end up in heaven or hell?” Their response of indifference didn’t diminish the biblical truth that they had just heard – that we all have a Creator to whom we will be held accountable. My “conversation” with Reggie and Sarah today turned out to be rather one-sided, with me asking questions and them giving indifferent responses. From a worldly point of view it was a failure. They were spiritually apathetic – or more likely it was the fact that closing time was fast approaching and they didn’t want to engage in a longer conversation – but either way the conversation didn’t give me much opportunity to convey gospel truths. But maybe they received all the truth they needed for today.