2/9/17 Mike about 55
It was cold out today, but the need for nicotine was more important for a man named Mike who stepped out of a local tavern for a smoke just when I was walking by. I asked about his beliefs on what happens after we die. “I’ve been thinking about that for fifty years…” he began, “…and I haven’t figured it out yet. I’ve been doing a lot of reading and personal research, and I’m kind of leaning toward Zen Buddhism.” I asked about his religious upbringing, and later asked why he had left his Catholic roots. “I always had this constant sense of guilt as a Catholic, and I’m not into the confession thing.” he said. “So do you think it’s possible to be a Catholic or Christian and not feel that constant sense of guilt?” I asked. He did not, and viewed the guilt as necessary to Christian salvation, like feeling really, really sorry could take the guilt away somehow.
Would you like to know how it could be possible to be a Christian and not feel that constant sense of guilt?” I asked. He looked at his cigarette, about ¾ of it left, and said “If you can tell me before I finish this cigarette”. I agreed, and began to explain how our sins require a just punishment, only to be satisfied in Christ. Mike’s cigarette burned down pretty fast, and my explanation left a lot to be desired. But it was the best I could do, given the circumstances. It would be a miracle were he to respond to my quick Gospel message. But aren’t miracles what God specializes in? And isn’t the new heart and new life that Jesus referred to as being “born again” something that only God can do?
Mike wasn’t interested in talking after his cigarette was gone. But that doesn’t keep the Holy Spirit from bringing to mind what I had told him. Hebrews 10:20 tells us that through the blood of Jesus we can draw near to God in confidence, that we can be cleansed from the guilt that sin brings. Please pray that Mike can find forgiveness in Christ and that his “fifty year search” for relief from his guilt can finally come to an end.