5/25/16 Sam about 50
Our great Commission is often an adventure as we reach out to the wide variety of people in the world, each a unique individual with their own story to tell. The other day it was an older man named Sam, whom I found riding down the sidewalk on a bike with a large iguana on his hat. Obviously, this is a great conversation piece for Sam, and I asked him all about his iguana, named "Little Hawk". For quite some time, I let him be the expert that he is about having an iguana as a pet, and he became very animated as he told all about it.
I learned a lot, but didn't forget my mission out there on the sidewalk to share the Gospel. So how does one transition a conversation about an iguana to talking about the Gospel? You don't. If I had made some religious reference, like "God sure was creative when he made these creatures" or something like that, the subject of our conversation would still be the iguana and I wouldn't have permission to have a conversation with Sam about God. It would be awkward and downright rude to try to force the issue. I believe the best way to start a conversation about the Gospel, whether it is with a complete stranger, someone we've talked with for a while, or someone we've known a long time, is to just ask. After Sam told me most of what he knew about iguanas, I asked "Hey, I have a question for you, and it has nothing to do with iguanas. What do you think happens after this life?" Sam responded with his beliefs, and we went on to a long conversation about the Gospel without any distractions by Little Hawk.
As it turned out, Sam believes only in a "Creator", which he sees differently from God as taught in the Bible being both the giver and the taker of life. His complaint about the Christian idea of God is that He breaks his own rules about killing, and thus would be hypocritical. He cited Noah's flood as an example of God destroying most living things, and could not believe in a God who breaks His own standard of right and wrong that way. I reminded Sam that it didn't end with the flood; that God oversees the death of tens of thousands around the world every day, and that one day we all will die too. But what makes it wrong to kill is not the taking of life, for the One who gives life surely has the authority to take it away. What makes the taking of life wrong for humans is that we are not God. We have no right to take on God's role, or to judge God as if he were beholden to the same standards he gives us. I find that most who would criticize God are judging Him as if He should be judged by the same standard as humans.
Finally, Little Hawk, sitting this whole time on Sam's hat, was starting to get restless and so was Sam. He was open to reading what I gave him, and continued his ride down the sidewalk with the iguana on his head, challenged to see God in a new way.