1/20/15 Brian about 25
I remember when I first considered the challenge of initiating gospel conversations with strangers – I froze with fear at the idea of doing so in a marketplace situation like a supermarket. Now I’ve found it to be a great place to reach out to people, especially during the cold winter months, and I typically use a few gospel tracts as conversation starters after finishing my shopping and before heading to the cash registers. Brian, about 25, knowingly nodded when I gave him one today – “I know all about these” he said. “My mother gives them out all the time” I was tempted to think that Brian had a clear understanding of the Gospel but I have learned that “God has no grandchildren” – that just because Brian’s mother sounds like she is a committed Christian doesn’t mean he is – and when I asked him about his hope for salvation and belief about heaven, he said “I think I will attain heaven when I am able to put aside all worldly concerns and problems and complete God’s plan for my life.” I was surprised at his vague answer, so I asked “No one is guaranteed another day of life, so if you died today, where would you be?” “I think I would go to hell, for some of the things I do.” I asked “How can you go through your day thinking that if you were to die at any moment you would end up in hell?” Brian had an answer I don’t think I’ve ever heard but I think a lot of people believe – “I don’t think God will allow me to die before I’m ready and have completed the task He’s called me to.” His answer confirms a theory of mine – that no one can live for long with the thought that they might end up in hell. They hide like Adam and Eve did, in a variety of ways. They might trivialize their sin or God’s holiness, rationalize their sin, change their beliefs about God, or, in Brian’s case, believe that God will protect them from death and punishment until they have changed their ways. I have to believe Brian had heard the Gospel message from his mother hundreds of times growing up, but somehow it made a lot of sense to him today, and he thanked me profusely. “I don’t usually get in these conversations, and wasn’t going to talk to you, but I’m glad I did” he said. And I’m glad I’m no longer frozen with fear!