9/4/14 Rich about 55
My 6:30 Wednesday morning Bible study at Dunkin Donuts must have been too early because none of the regular attenders showed up! So I found myself alone at a table wondering how I could redeem the time before having to go to work. I looked around for someone I might reach out to with the Gospel. The man at the table next to me seemed engrossed in his newspaper, coffee, and bagel with shmeer. A nagging voice in my mind told me “This is too early to have such a deep conversation – leave the poor guy alone and let him wake up!” I’m glad I didn’t listen. At first the man – Rich – did seem hesitant to get involved. He said he is Jewish, and is of the opinion that moderate religion is good because it teaches people good moral values, but he stopped short of belief in God or an afterlife. However, he soon warmed up to the conversation, especially with my sincere questions about his beliefs and my willingness to listen and value his answers and experiences. Rich is culturally Jewish, not religiously, and for him this means that he respects Jewish and Christian morals and ethics, as well as the ethical systems of other world religions. After a certain point, my questions and willingness to listen won his attention and I was able to discern that, like so many Jewish people I’ve talked to, he believed one should just be good during this life without regard for the next, with the unspoken assumption being that just in case there is another life after this he will get the good that he deserves. I explained why I start these conversations, that as a Christian I believe that I would rather get what I don’t deserve – God’s forgiveness – and that because of God’s love for both people and justice that forgiveness is only found in the sacrifice given on our behalf, Jesus Christ. Rich was appreciative of the conversation, telling me that the deaths of several people close to him recently has him questioning his own mortality, and that I happened to “catch him in a good mood” for our conversation. I’m learning not to trust that nagging voice in my head that tries to convince me not to share the Gospel, and to listen instead to the voice of the Spirit that lives in my heart. How does one know the difference? I’m not sure, but I think it might have something to do with whether the voice tells us we should talk to people about Jesus or not.