5/24/17 Jesse about 40
It was a response like no other in my experience. I had walked into a Starbucks and looked for someone who might have time to talk, which happened to be a rough looking dude dressed in biker gear. I walked over and asked if he wouldn't mind my asking him an interesting question.
He had been looking at his phone, so I didn't think he had even noticed me, but without hesitation he said "Man of God, what great truth do you have for me today?"
"Wow!" I said. "How did you even know it would be a religious question?"
"I just know. You have a spiritual aura about you. I'm a spiritual man myself. My ability to recognize other spiritual people has been developing."
Now I know that when a stranger approaches you at a coffee shop, it is likely either to sell something, ask for money, or proselytize. I don't look like the business type or homeless, so his guess wasn't all that miraculous. But I was curious about his story, and he was glad to share it.
Jesse's spiritual journey has taken him away from his parent's Christian church to a general belief that some people are "spiritual" and many are not. Jesse talked in flowery, spiritual sounding words that sounded like they might make sense, but that were not grounded in any particular religious text or historical context to give them meaning.
In contrast, the God of Christianity is identified as "…the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." Of whom did Jesse speak when he spoke of the "cosmic energy within you", or "surrendering to a higher reality"? Not the God of the Bible, who has revealed Himself, His attributes, and His actions throughout its pages.
Jesse did say he believed in Jesus among many other religions of the world, so I began to talk about the historical reality of Jesus' life and the cross, the specific nature of good and evil, and the logical outcome of a good God who is perfect in all his ways…
"How can God deal with the fact of our sin in a way that is both completely loving and completely just at the same time? Only at the cross does God perfectly work justice by punishing sin, while showing perfect love by being merciful. No other religion rooted in historical events has a savior like Jesus or an historical event like the cross."
Flowery words and lofty ideas can't give us a right relationship with God. Our very real and specific sins separate us, and only His specific sacrifice of reconciliation 2000 years ago can restore us.
Jesse listened and didn't disagree. He is a man of peace, and was grateful for our conversation. I pray he will bring his thinking out of the clouds and to the realty of the cross of Calvary.