A hug and a share

the christmas tree shopper

Emergent and Seeker-Driven theology teaches that only friendship wins the unchurchable; that "earning the right" to talk about your faith happens in relationship over a period of time. Weeks. Months. Years. But is that what Jesus asks us to do, earn the right to go into the world and make disciples? Or do people need to hear the message of the Gospel right now?

Jesus said: The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. (John 6:63) Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. (John 3:6)

Friendships do lead to a nice warm community, but without God, there is no life. The flesh counts for nothing.  And we can't just simply share our light by saying nothing and letting our lives speak for themselves.

My own life looks pretty messy. I don't have a natural happy Jesus face. In fact, my natural expression, thanks to generations of DNA passed down from my great grandmother, is a downturned mouth -- a natural frown on a joy-filled girl like me. I'm sure I was wearing it yesterday after finishing work here at the radio station.  I headed over to the big famous gadget and electronics store to start my shopping. Yes, I do tend to procrastinate. As I was perusing the aisles, I stopped to ask a young clerk for some help. At that moment, one of our listeners spotted me and gave me a hug. "Thanks for what you're doing on the show," she said. Little did she know, that hug and that encouragement lead to something so much more for the guy who was helping me.

As she walked away, the young man asked me what I did for a living.  I told him about my job at the local Christian radio station, and about Stand Up For The Truth.  I could tell he hadn't heard of it, so I asked him if he liked Christian music. He said that his friends all listened to it, but that he didn't even listen to the radio. He had his own music.

He clearly wanted to keep talking. So we walked away from the main aisle and the crowds. He wanted to tell me about his faith. And why he didn't believe in God.

"When I was a kid we went to XYZ church," he began (which happened to be the same church I'd been a member of), "but when I was 11 we stopped going."  He explained that his dad had beat up his mom, and it was a sad time in his life.  He loved his college philosophy class. So had I.

And today he is an atheist, and glad for the freedom in it.

He told me his mom "sort of" believed in a higher power."  His friends are all "hard core" Christians. His words.

"And do they talk with you about the Bible, or about who Jesus is?" I ask.

"Oh yes, that's all they want to talk about. I listen, but they're not pushing anything on me. I still make good moral decisions. I don't need a religion or a god to tell me to be good."

And that's where I knew I could start: with those list of moral rules, and how we can't keep them. And that's why Jesus came. He took our punishment on Himself, by offering His life and His perfection in exchange for our depravity. And after all those witnesses saw Him crucified, He rose from the dead and walked among them. Hundreds of witnesses experienced Him, and watched Him ascend to heaven. And that's how the Church began--with those witnesses sharing what they had seen. Centuries later, we share that message too. We don't need a formula, and we don't need to "close the deal." We just need to make sure the true message of what Jesus did is shared.

We don't need to wait. We don't need months of building our friendship and earning permission. Because complete strangers need to hear the hope and the good news.  At the end of our talk, he promised he would tune in if I would take his company's customer survey. That's an easy one. If you are listening my friend, thank you for your time. I have a feeling we'll be running into each other again.