12/3/16 Ray about 50
He looked like he’d had a hard day on his construction job, clothes dirty and torn, wolfing down supper at the grocery store café. He’s a big guy and pretty tough looking, but was willing to talk with me, a complete stranger, about his beliefs. Ray said the only reason he believes in any kind of spiritual existence is because of a vision he’d had of his father, not long after he had died when Ray was a young boy.
Other than that he really didn’t care much about religion at all and thought heaven would probably be boring. I spent some time talking about the awesomeness of creation, how much more awesome God is as the Creator, and how an eternity won’t be long enough to know Him. Yet Ray was unimpressed, and not too interested in talking about spiritual things.
However, as we were talking he mentioned that he played the harmonica, and I told him that I happen to play harmonica also. Suddenly his eyes lit up and he became animated as we talked about his interest and experiences in playing the harmonica. He turned out to be a true harmonica aficionado, very knowledgeable and loving to share his passion with anyone who appreciated hearing about it. I’m sorry to say he conveyed more enthusiasm in sharing about harmonicas than I had conveyed in sharing about heaven! He invited me to get together with some other enthusiasts for a jam session. Well I may play harmonica some but I shared nowhere near his interest for it, and didn’t really have the time for it.
No matter how enthusiastically he talked about it, I couldn’t find it in myself to share his interest. This was a great reminder to me to turn the tables and realize how Ray and many like him feel toward the things of God. Most people I talk with just don’t share my interest, especially within a relatively short conversation, and no matter how enthusiastically I may convey it, I can’t change their heart. What really makes the difference is not my own efforts, but the Holy Spirit working in the hearts of our listeners.
In Jesus’ widely quoted “Great Commission” we are called to “make disciples”. But can we really turn indifferent hearts into disciples with a passion for Jesus? Given the enormity of this task I am so glad Jesus assures us at the end of this passage that “I am with you always”. We are not alone, and if disciples are to be made, it is through the power of God, not our own, and He will rightfully get the credit.
So what is our role? Other accounts of our commission as Jesus’ disciples tell us to “proclaim the good news” (Mark 16:15); “that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name” (Luke 24:47); and “you will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). We are called to bear witness. I am privileged to have had the opportunity to proclaim the good news to Ray, to be a witness and an ambassador for Christ. (2 Cor 5:20) I can’t change his heart, but I do pray that his passion for his music will one day be eclipsed by a passion for the gospel. And when it does, the glory and honor will go to God, to whom it belongs.