Saturday, March 8, 2014

Widgets

Those Who Mourn

Location: Da Nang, Thanh KhĂȘ, Da Nang, Vietnam
Recently I have been blessed and challenged through a series of conversations with someone who is not a Christian, but who has patiently and attentively heard my testimony about Jesus, and why I follow Him.  Our talks have ranged a number of issues:  social, cultural, philosophical, theological, and personal.  Perhaps more importantly, they have involved a series of interconnected vignettes about my Savior and me.

Because my friend did not grow up around Christians, I have had to consciously abandon my assumptions about what people understand about Christ and His gospel.  This has been good for me, since such assumptions are generally wrong anyway.  Even more personally, carefully explaining how my belief forms the basis for my life, thought, and principles has been refreshing, insofar as it has also helped me to recognize in a new way how integrally such core principles as love, grace, devotion, purity, loyalty, sacrifice, etc. spring from the seed of simple faith in the Author of my salvation.

At the same time, these conversations have laid bare the deeper loneliness of the Christian's peculiarity.  My friend, who is much younger than I, appears to respect my faith and admire my family, while at the same time seeing me as an anachronism:  a nice man with some old-fashioned and outdated ideas.  While this is an improvement over, say, a perception of cold judgmentalism, it still leaves me sad ... and my friend yet lost.

This is a hard form of evangelism, because it requires sincerely caring for someone who may simply never respond to faith with faith.  It is so much easier, for example, to go "street witnessing" with friends among people you will likely never see again, and for whom you feel little real compassion.  When I share the gospel with someone I honestly care for, I then have to honestly feel the pain of their rejection, or at least their ambivalence.

At the same time, I think I have come to appreciate the value of sorrow in my life, insofar as it reawakens my soul.  Ministry is--in essence and with rare exception--loving and giving to those who will not respond in equal measure. The pain of that reality must be felt, lest we become cold and calloused.  The pain of gospel ministry ought to drive us further into gospel dependence on our Savior, but it cannot do so if we refuse to experience it.

3 comments:

  1. Although your friend is apparently interested in Jesus and appreciates your testimony regarding him, he apparently hasn't reached the point in his experience with either of you where he is willing to ask the jailer's question, "What must I do to be saved?". I assume that his self-centered pride and intellect is keeping him from admitting that he needs to live in a personal relationship with Jesus. Your testimony is a worthy and loving "seed", but it is the Spirit who really does the planting of "conviction" and the "cultivation" for God's effective "call" into a life of discipleship. Pray that the Spirit will go to work in his life.

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  2. good words, Ray--

    Ray, not been able to reach you by e-mail - does this still work for you?

    rayrich90@yahoo.com
    tim Ferrell - timferrell@comcast.net

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  3. Thank you for this post which gets to the heart of going deep with a few or shallow with many.

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