“I give you this charge, “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” 2 Timothy 4:1b-2
It was only supposed to be a photo shoot to update my professional photo and the photographer, making small talk, says, “Any big plans for the weekend?”
Not expecting my answer to go very far, since I talk about it all the time, which usually ends with a sweet, “Wow! I couldn’t do that, good for you,” I answered his question with, “Yes, I am meeting with 3 inmates tomorrow for bible study at the jail.”
It was pretty obvious that the photo shoot got very interesting from there; Perhaps better words to describe it would be “weird”, or possibly “awkward” to be accurate.
He clarified, “I assume you’re talking about the Christian bible?” I responded, “Yes!” In the hope that this would open up a great spiritual dialog, but instead he said, “Well that’s interesting, since I have studied all the world religions and they all pretty much have their own take on it. At the end of the day they all say the same thing, so why Christian?”
I thought I would start with my testimony. After all, it is my own personal, “why Christian”. So I proceeded to explain that 18 years ago I was questioned, for the first time in my life at my daughters baptism, about my belief in infant baptism and I really wasn’t prepared for the confrontation. I was baptizing my daughter because I was raised to believe that it was the right thing to do; not because I understood why I was doing it. That day I surrendered my life to Christ and made a commitment to seek and know the truth. I wanted to raise my daughters in that confidence and to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, how to get to heaven so they wouldn’t have to question what they believe if they are ever confronted like I had been.
He didn’t bite. He continued, “Well, if you are teaching your daughters what you believe and that is all they’ve ever known, are you – in essence – doing exactly what your parents did to you?”
I really couldn’t argue. He’s right! It’s not like I shopped religions and gave my kids an education in all of the ways the world practices their beliefs and helped them understand why Jesus truly is the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the father except through Him (John 14:6), but I know what I know because I KNOW Jesus! I have the Holy Spirit living in me (Ephesians 4:30), I have witnessed my own life transformed (Romans 12:1-2), I have seen miraculous signs of things I could have never thought or imagined (Ephesians 3:20).
At this point we just tipped toed off the subject and back onto the photo shoot, but this conversation is still lingering in my mind. Several thoughts are jockeying around:
1 – This man is going to hell for not knowing the truth and I wasn’t able to give him any reason to think otherwise. He is deceived by the belief that their are many roads to heaven.
2 – I was not prepared to give a reason for the truth that I believe. I am a student of God’s Word and my life is a continuous process of growing in the grace and knowledge of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:18b), and I was weak, at best, to be a disciple of all of the truths that I have learned and know.
3 – What would I have said if given the chance to do it again? (Personal growth opportunity)
4 – Should I invite him to lunch and ask him to allow me to share the gospel? Maybe no one ever took the time to explain it and if he approached world religions as an academic exercise, I am sure it would be hard to differentiate why Christian.
In the meantime, you can be assured that I will be praying for him. Also, I will be continuing to learn and grow. This conversation is evidence that God isn’t finished with me yet. I do need to continue to learn and run the race that has been marked out for me (Hebrews 12:1).