Every culture and generation has its strengths and weaknesses. Today I met a young couple, both musicians, who had stopped by the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago, traveling across the country from New York to Colorado. I asked them if I could record a conversation about spiritual beliefs with one of them while the other would operate the video camera, so Dillon agreed to the conversation while Julia ran the camera. The video can be seen here.
In it, like many others of the “millennial” generation, we can see that Dillon generally takes a “wait and see” approach to religion, as in both “show me proof here and now”, and “I’ll just wait and see what happens when I get there”. Since no one can know for sure, he sees tolerance toward the beliefs of others as the reasonable attitude to take, and the strongly-held religious beliefs of older generations to be the reason for much conflict – and much good – in the world.
For a Christian like myself who sees eternity hanging in the balance, this noncommittal attitude can be maddingly frustrating, but on the positive side it makes sharing the Gospel very easy. Dillon said that he has checked out many of the main religions of the world, and this same openness and curiosity made it easy to share the biblical world view, especially in a context where I was able to ask good questions and listen to his beliefs before sharing my own. However, when I used a few of the Ten Commandments to try to help Dillon see the personal nature of his offenses against God, he responded with indifference, saying “I don’t think what we do is that significant in the grand scheme of things.”
Actually, this isn’t so far from the truth, for it is a God-centered gospel and not a man-centered Gospel that says that God is the central concern of the Bible. It is God who is to be glorified, not man, whether through displaying His love and mercy or through His justice and wrath. I think Dillon is halfway there in getting his eyes off himself. Now he just needs to get his eyes on God. His openness made it easy to share the Gospel, but If we see the work of repentance and faith in others as dependent on our own efforts and ability to be convincing, then talking to people with a non-committal attitude such as Dillon’s would be very frustrating.
However, the work of heart change is the work of the Spirit, not ours. When Nicodemus asked Jesus how he could be “born again”. Jesus responded by saying “You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” I don’t know where the Holy Spirit has been in Dillon’s life, and I don’t know where He is going. But I trust that our conversation today was part of the journey.