Friday, May 13, 2016
"Maybe I'll Come Back as a Drop of Rain."
The first encounter of the night happened when, in the middle of preaching I observed a young man standing quietly off to my right just a few feet away, smoking a cigarette and waiting to speak to me.
He introduced himself as Josh and told me that he works at the pizza parlor across the street from where we preach. Now the people at the pizza place have very little use for our ministry but this was the first time any of the employees had come and spoken to us.
The first thing Josh wanted to let me know was that, for the last year or so, he has consistently heard us preach on that same corner, and as far as he could tell we had not wavered in our message one iota. He claimed to be a church kid, and a former worship leader at some church there in Brunswick. He claimed to be familiar with the gospel. He told me "I believe in Jesus and all that, but this isn't the way to do it."
I gave him my standard answer about the necessity of public evangelism as a fulfillment of the scriptures, and he just sort of nodded. He reiterated his disagreement with our methods, though he claimed to be in alignment with our message. He could even explain our message to me, having heard it proclaimed countless times at his place of employment. He just didn't like our preaching.
I always find that position interesting, so I asked him if he were to die where would he spend eternity. He avoided the question, telling me how disappointed his generation was towards church and towards God, and how people like me are making things worse. I pressed forward, asking him "I'm not talking about your entire generation. I'm talking about you. If you die, right now, what happens to you? What happens to Josh?"
"Maybe I'll come back as a drop of rain. I don't know."
I have to admit, I wasn't expecting that. I turned my banner a bit so that he could see the picture of Christ crucified and asked him "Then why did THIS happen?"
"Oh sure, man, I mean I believe Jesus died to save us.."
"Save you from what? From becoming a drop of rain?"
He nodded and stared at my sign. "Yeah I see your point, but I'm just sayin', man, that people don't want you out here, you know?"
"That's unfortunate, but it really does change anything. But let's get back to you. You claimed to agree with what we're doing, but then..the whole raindrop thing."
"Ok, yeah, but, it's like this, right? The Bible was written by men." He sort of leaned back like he had just dropped the most profound statement ever in my lap.
"But you told me you believed in Jesus."
"Yeah, I'm all about him."
"The only way you ever heard of Jesus was from a Bible."
"But you don't believe the Bible that told you about him? I'm confused."
"Well the Bible was written by God, but has been twisted by men."
"Sure, but so what?"
"So many people they just believe what some guy tells them about the Bible, and they dont read it for themselves."
"Do you read it for yourself?"
"Ummm...no." An awkward silence prevailed for a bit. He cleared his throat and took a hit off his cigarette.
"Ok, Josh, look, for a year you've heard us , right?"
"And we've never pointed you or anyone else towards us or towards our church."
"I've never told you you had to work your way to heaven. I've never given you a bunch of rules to follow."
"We've just mentioned Jesus Christ over and over again as the only cure for sin."
"And you agree with that?"
"Oh yeah, man. I told you I grew up in church."
I must have had a puzzled look on my face. "So what exactly is the problem?"
He gestured around "I'm just sayin', everybody out here isn't on board with all this, you know?"
"I am aware of this, yes."
"That's all I'm sayin'."
"But you can't speak for everybody here. You can only speak to you. So do you, Josh, know for sure that your sins are forgiven?"
We covered a lot of the same ground three or four more times before Ken Seremak tried to make some sense of what he was saying. A few minutes later I found myself engaged in a conversation with another young man (a story for another time) but what I took away from all that is this; the message we proclaim is simple and easily understood and by the testimony of people opposed to it is remarkably consistent. We don't preach the flavor of the month of the philosophy of the day, we preach Christ, and him crucified. We preach repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We preach sin, righteousness and judgment to come. We have done that week in and week out and the testimony isn't hat we've had a huge harvest of souls. The testimony is that everybody knows exactly what we're all about.
Allow me to encourage you , fellow public minister. When you think nobody is listening, everybody is listening.