“Have you seen ‘The Passion of the Christ?’” I shake my head. “The cinematography was unquestionably succinct” He hunches as he speaks. “Terrific lashing aside,” he continues “the film was rather well done.” He seems unperturbed by my inability to contribute.
I begin to evaluate him. His piano tuning tools lay next to him on the bench. He cradles a cup of cooling tea in his hands. Worn blue jeans dress his uncrossed legs. The plaid button-up shirt has seen better days. Blue eyes dance mysteriously from a look of knowledge to one of vacant innocence.
“I quite enjoy the historical aspect of the bible.” He goes on, “Of course, it’s completely subjective – all written from someone’s point of view. A lot of the stories from the four Gospels just don’t jive.” My stomach tightens.
“Some people think I’m a pastor. I’m not. I just enjoy studying the bible. Jesus is an interesting historical figure.”
My children play nearby. They seem oblivious to our conversation, but I begin to worry about what they may hear. I rack my brain for something to say. No words come.
“I find that everyone’s perception of God is different.” He continues, “Some people say all religions are the same, but they’re actually different. Who God is depends on your understanding. … if you believe in God.”
My heart lodges in my throat. I’m supposed to love him, but I’m so angry with him right now. How dare he question God’s existence! How dare he say these things in front of children. He only is able to speak because God allows it – and this is what he does with that mouth?
I’m upset with myself too – I’ve been given an opportunity but I lack love. I can’t hear the Spirit, only my anger. I don’t love this man as a lost soul who needs God desperately. I want to correct him – show him how wrong he is, prove to him God is real and he should believe.
But I wasn’t won over by debate years ago. I didn’t come to Christ because of convincing proof. I was not argued into belief. Who is? We are won over by love. LOVE. I was courted by Christ, and he won. Praise the Lord! Only He can do that!
The rest of the week I think about that man. ‘Buy up every opportunity, for the days are evil’ If I had been in the Spirit, I could have shared God’s love and truth with him. Maybe it would have been ignored, maybe a seed planted, but at least I would have walked in love and ‘against that there is no law’.
And now, as I ponder what he said, I notice that he never said he didn’t believe. I made assumptions that he viewed Christ only as an historical figure, but did he say that? Maybe he is searching for God. Maybe he does believe in God and was trying to find out where I stand. Maybe he was trying to witness to me. Maybe he was trying to find one person brave enough to tell him that Jesus is God and created him for a purpose. Maybe he was just looking for a believer to squash. I don’t know. I never asked.
I was too busy thinking I’m right and he’s wrong.
I was too busy making assumptions and getting my neck up.
Lord, forgive me for my selfishness. Help me to love beyond emotions. Help me to remember that the opinions and words of others are not about me. My faith is not about me. It’s about you. You need no lawyer to defend your truth. You need people to live your truth and walk in love. Thank you for this opportunity and that it reveals my selfishness. Please fill me with your love. Give me your eyes and your heart for others I pray in Jesus name. Amen.