So, I’ve decided to start writing a short story each month. I was really struggling with trusting God and trusting others on December 27th and 28th, so I wrote the following sentences down, intending it to be me: “The snow fell around him, causing him to shiver in the early evening as he trudged through the powder. Every now and then he slipped, the ice on the sidewalk making his journey treacherous.”
Thus began my story “Meeting,” which quickly took a much different route than I had originally planned. The link to it is http://lilwritr.blogspot.com/2016/01/meeting.html. I wrote a good portion of it at Starbucks on the 29th, the day I ran into the Jehovah’s Witness, so after chatting with him, I was totally decided on the route the story would take. A guy who doesn’t know the Lord, who’s really down on his luck, runs into a believer. What would his response look like? What should the believer’s response look like?
So, what resulted was an eight page character sketch, a thirteen page conversation, and a two page conclusion. My focus was trying to invent a character out of my brain, someone I’d never met before, whose situation is very opposite of mine. I kept our genders the same, but otherwise he is very different from me: Bobby Jones. I made the believer character, Jay, modeled on how I would like to see myself interacting with a non-believer, something that I would love to make more of a regular part of my own life.
I fall far short of the “Jay” I invented, but his progression is currently being worked out in my novel Stranded, and the two sequels that follow in the Awakening series. If this story was to become part of that series, it would end up in book three. The story takes place approximately a year from today.
Before moving on, the fact that Jay orders a beer is not promoting that industry. Everyone makes mistakes, and Jay is not perfect; in a moment of weakness he made a decision that could have cost a potential convert.
So what are we to learn from this story? I think there are at least two lessons.
First, we need to meet unbelievers where they are. Jay didn’t start in on biblical themes. He got to know Bobby. He also shared his own life with Bobby. There’s no better way to find common ground with an unbeliever than to just be honest with them. If we act holier-than-thou we will never impact them, but if we tell them about ourselves, and if we seek to understand them, then our attempts could very well be rewarded with a good response. However, at the same time, another place the Bobby character really was, was suspended over hell. We have to meet unbelievers even here and beg them to trust Christ, warning them of their plight. And given all the direct thoughts of Bobby, given in italics, I tried to show that the Spirit is at work on his mind, impressing things on him that Jay didn’t even explicitly say. Our job is to meet them where they are and be totally honest with them, both about our lives and their plight, and trust the Holy Spirit to do His convicting and regenerating work. God is very good at being God.
Finally, a reason this story took the route it did was because I’ve long wanted to explore the phrase, “Christianity is a relationship, not a religion.” This story gives some insight into my thoughts on that topic. Allow me to preach briefly on it here. That phrase is normally used, I feel at least, to get people off the hook about their apathy towards spiritual disciplines and other such things. This is not at all the case. Religion is dead ritual. Relationship is vibrant, changing, struggle to maintain, desire to maintain, mutual give-and-take that produces all sorts of emotion. If a relationship is set aside, it dies. To say that Christianity is a relationship and not a religion, is to raise the bar for how we act in Christianity.
John 13:34-35 says, “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (HCSB). This is further defined in Matthew 22:37-39: “He said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself’ ” (HCSB). We are to love Jesus with everything we are, and we do this by loving other humans, both the saved and the non-saved.
Let’s seek to meet people where they are, tell them the truth, and thus prove that we love God with everything that we are!
Soli Deo Gloria.