I must confess, I blew an opportunity to witness to someone.In all fairness, it was on my wife’s birthday, and it was getting late.Oh, did I mention I never actually talked to the person – they were across the room. I was, well, eavesdropping on their conversation.
It’s an old habit, picked up during 20-plus years as a journalist.
It’s sort of awkward to listen for awhile and then walk up and say, “Excuse me, I couldn’t help but overhear – you’re worried about going to hell?”
I knew I wasn’t really prepared for this level of discussion – right at the moment. I didn’t even have my tablet. A smartphone just wouldn’t be enough for this encounter. I needed quick access to MacArthur and Sproul for goodness sakes. I might even need a laptop and German Bible (Luther, ya know).
A thousand thoughts ran through my head as my bat-hearing picked up strains of the conversation across the restaurant. I could only hear bits and pieces as a server cleared off a table nearby.
“…I can’t just go along with it…”
“…the Bible was written by men…”
“If God wanted…”
“A Creator should want to keep that message pure” floated from across the room.
The problem was, I missed the context of the discussion. Was this a personal story by the man at the other table? Was it a re-telling of an encounter he had? Was it an article or fictional story he was reading?
I just didn’t know enough.
So, I just listened as he kept talking about books he had read, and people he had talked to about God, Satan, the Bible and more.
“I think most Christians sit there each Sunday in their pews and don’t really know what they believe,” he pontificated.
He talked about how Christians proclaim love, but don’t show it. We claim to have the truth, but we don’t know how to share it.
Like an old fuzzy AM radio station, the conversation volume waxed and waned.
I thought he said he would love for someone to take up the challenge to show him, with an unbiased opinion, what God and life are all about.
“Here I am, Lord. Send me,” I thought, even though I knew my opinion was biased.
I think it is not difficult to understand the Bible. I don’t have a problem reconciling it to the truth – contrary to what the world believes. The Bible is proven daily. An honest study of the Bible reveals the truth of Christ and God. We can know how the whole system works. Sure, it takes discernment and a willingness to take time to study the Bible in context and in unification of thoughts from chapter to chapter, book to book.
Since that almost-encounter, I’ve felt bad about the missed opportunity. He’s at-risk for going to hell, and I was too shy to cross the room to talk to him?
I’m praying that God lets our paths cross again, in such a way that I can bring up the conversation. It’s a small town, so the likelihood is great. I would love to talk with him. I’m not so naïve as to expect a pat on the back as he kneels to repeat the Sinner’s Prayer. Sometimes it takes long discussions with a person holding a stubborn viewpoint.
That’s good though. It also helps us clarify what we believe – and makes sure we aren’t holding some false beliefs, too.