The German Group
The cafe was mobbed, no chance for a seat. All I needed was a half hour to put the final touches on a project. I ordered a coffee and miraculously a seat opened in the corner. Plugged in and focused and I began to work. Yet, no sooner had I typed the first word, and a man leaned into my face to ask a question. Others gathered around me, one spilling a cup, nervously smiling. It turned out they were German tourists killing time before their hotel would let them check in. I unplugged, and began to converse. They spoke English, and so I risked asking the woman across from me if she had any interest in spiritual things. “Our country is very liberal,” she said. “Actually, we pride ourselves on this, accepting all ideas as equal and keeping an open mind.” She went on to explain that she had been involved in a large denomination as a child, but hadn’t been back to church in over 40 years.
“Can I tell you a story,” I asked? She nodded, and so I began to explain how my idea of spiritually had suddenly taken a turn one day on a lonely highway when I met a man of true faith. At this point she bristled, and began to defend her point of view. “I don’t like religion,” she said. “It’s too much pressure to have to keep up with all the requirements.” “I understand,” I said. “But you know what got my attention about Jesus?” “When I learned that having a relationship with God isn’t about what I do, or don’t do, but about what He has already done for me.” At this her eyes widened a bit, and I could tell she was thinking hard. Yet, in the end, she dismissed my message with a weak smile and a wave of her hand. It took my breath away to watch her so easily turn down an offer of grace.
The Face of Indifference
What can we do in the face of indifference like this? We may have friends or family who dismiss our message. Where do we go from there? Do we stay cautious, or can we find ways to serve and love, show and tell the good news? Do we risk offending, trusting the true message of our words and life can leave a true impression of the heart of God? Someone has said it’s not easy times to be a Christian. But no time has ever been easy. Not knowing for sure how to proceed, it’s tempting to push the pause button, to keep spiritual conversations on the down low, for the sake of communal love. But this kind of détente feels contrived and compromised, no way to enjoy a healthy relationship. By our consistent labor of love, and the integrity of our lives, the brilliance of God can, in those defining moments become a brilliant penetrating light. Then it’s not you, or I who lead them anywhere, but God guiding them back into His radiant arms.
A Ten Minute Window
I was sitting on a train last week reading a pocket New Testament. Beside me stood a young man, minding his own business. As I read about how Jesus crossed the lake into the region where the insane man lived, I paused and got his attention. “Do you read the Bible very often,” I asked? He seemed surprised and shock his head. “I’m reading this amazing story, I wonder if you ever heard it…” Then I told him about how Jesus had cast out legion and told them to go into a herd of swine, and how they all had run break neck into the sea! By this time he was tracking with me. It was easy then to ask him personal questions about his own beliefs and experience with the church. It took no more than ten minutes, just the ride from Grand Street to Broadway Junction, where I switch trains. A ten-minute window for a young man whose life is still like wet cement. I remember when my heart was like that, and my grandmother told me the story of Daniel in the lion’s den. That grain of truth stuck with me until the day I gave my life to Jesus Christ. He only needs a voice and smile to bring the brilliance of His Son into even the most indifferent heart.