Thursday, August 05, 2010

In the Diner

It’s pretty crowded today. So much so that I can’t really overhear conversations. Which means I am alone with my own thoughts. Well, those and Mark 7:14-23.

I am still stewing in my mind about an conversation this morning with a guy who is going through some really tough times. I have talked to him a number of times over last year or so. Today was the most explicit, frank conversation.

He says, “What do I do now?”

I had the chance to explain the gospel to him, trying to give him hope that being a good person wasn’t good enough. Sure it makes your friends and family happy, and makes the world a better place to live in. But it doesn’t do much beyond that.

The good news is that Jesus was good enough, and he died for us, both to reconcile us to God and secure our eternity as well as to give us a new paradigm for living in this world.

But I am stewing because I felt inadequate to explain it in a way that make sense to a guy who is actually looking for another answer.

I know there is always tension for us “gospellers” between the “here and now” and the “there and then.” People take the attitude that “I will worry about the ‘there and then’ when it gets here. Right now I need to get through today.”

I feel like one of my greatest weaknesses (which feels somewhat like trying to pick the saltiest drop of water in the oceans) is talking to people who don’t have a church background or even a religious background. The concept of God as a personal God who has something to say about life is foreign to them.

This is the case with people now more than ever before.

And I feel like I don’t have the categories in my mind for it. I have church/Bible/Jesus categories that make sense to people who share those categories.

But I feel lost in trying to talk to people who don’t share those categories. And most people don’t.

Which means I gotta figure it out.


Diane Heeney said...

I think of the various descriptions of lost things in Luke 15. Why did Jesus do that? Sometimes it requires a combination of several perspectives before things distill in the mind...I know that was my experience. Praying that this gentleman is given all the perspective he needs from other "waterers", in tandem with what you have shared, to grasp the gospel for himself.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Larry, I think it's great you're trying to preach the gospel to people at the diner. The kind of person you described is almost everyone I talk to here in California.

I start with: "There is a God, He has revealed Himself to us, and you're in much bigger trouble with Him than you even know. Whatever problems you think you have don't match up with the one you really do have with God. And whatever you think are your biggest problems can find their solution in the solution to what God says is your biggest problem. Could I talk to you about that?"

I get many meaningful gospel conversations. They don't receive the gospel most of the time, but that's not because of the gospel.

Anonymous said...

Well, I must admit, I am very biased with what I'm going to write, but I have seen it reach many, many folks like this. Try starting him with Creation and get him to recognize there is an alternative to what he has learned. When these folks who don't know the Lord yet begin to realize the real history of the world, it is amazing to me how we can take them from where they are and lead them to Christ Likeness. I'd be happy to come help you with this aspect of evangelism (Big Grin)! I am also thrilled that you are taking time to put yourself in that diner to interact with the community. I think that is great, and am disappointed more men in the ministry don't see these opportunities in their Jerusalem's. BTW, recently I got to speak in a public HS to 650+ kids grades 9-12. They had a white prom and a black prom. Requested topic from the school superintendent - The Biblical Answer to racism! WOW, what a great meeting! I took them back to Genesis and then thru history of Man,Sin,Flood, right on thru tower of Babel to today. Bible and Biology. Over 1000 pieces of literature were taken by the kids. I think the connection to the real history of the world is a fundamental way to reach across cultural and knowledge boundaries.
Skip T

Bill said...

I have to say this post seems timely, after my comment on your last post.

One of the things I find helpful in talking to skeptics is to show equal respect. I can make statements like "IF Jesus didn't rise from the dead..." and we can finish that sentence any way they like, and then discuss that scenario. To me, it's purely hypothetical. To them, they're wrestling with the fabric of God and reality. And that's a good thing for them to get to do.

Sometimes if you give a little leeway, you get a little leeway in return... I mean in conversation.

But don't get me wrong. I always find a moment to tell them I'm confident in what _I_ believe. They never stop being aware of my stand, either. But I know they respect the fact that I can try on their perspective.

Sometimes it pays dividends for eternity. Most times it doesn't. But I feel like it's one way of loving those people and engaging with honesty and respect about the claims Christianity holds.

Blessings in Christ,