5/30/15 Brian about 35
I saw an on-duty police officer on his lunch break and wanted to reach out to him with the Gospel, so I walked over to his table, said hello, and just asked if he would mind my asking an interesting question. “Sure, no problem” so I asked about his beliefs about eternity and he – Brian – had a strong belief in God, heaven and hell, our accountability to God for our actions during our life, and our need for forgiveness.
I went on to try to talk about how we might find that forgiveness – more specifically through faith in Jesus rather than in our own goodness or good works – but Brian kept reverting to a general platitude that allowed him to avoid the specific beliefs of the Gospel: “We all make mistakes, but I just believe and ask for forgiveness and try to do the best I can. We all have to do the best with whatever belief systems we grew up with”
I think he repeated that statement nearly word for word almost 10 times during our conversation. It was like a tape that kept replaying in his thinking that allowed him to avoid hearing the specific and often uncomfortable truths of the Bible – that our “mistakes” are willful and specific sins; that our belief is in a specific savior named Jesus, not “whatever belief systems we grew up with”; and that “doing our best” falls short and is the very reason we need a savior in the first place.
I showed great appreciation for Brian’s work as a police officer, but asked “When you help people as a police officer, you know you are just doing your job. You are doing what is expected of you and likewise, when all people do good and help others, we are only doing what God rightfully expects of us as human beings with the abilities and resources He gives us. We can’t expect that to make up for the times we willfully sin against God.” Brian’s answer? The same platitude - “We all make mistakes, but I just believe and ask for forgiveness and try to do the best I can. We all have to do the best with whatever belief systems we grew up with” Frustrating!
“Platitudes” are defined as “a remark or statement, especially one with a moral content that has been used too often to be interesting or thoughtful.” How many of us rely on platitudes like this that keep us from a living relationship with Jesus? How many of the deep and eternal truths of the Gospel turn into mere platitudes when we continually respond to them with indifference, unbelief, or disobedience? I appreciate Brian’s work as a police officer but, like all of us, he needs more than platitudes to put his faith in.