Thursday, December 9, 2010

Does this offend you?

John 6:61 Jesus is saying some pretty hard things. The disciples find themselves... murmuring... not singing or praising but murmuring. Not rejoicing in solid truth but mumbling murmurs. To which, Jesus looks at this group of quarreling men vying for position and status. Cutting each other with their words and religiously serving to look devoted and they are murmuring; and Jesus says, "Does this offend you?"

I am teaching English to many different students. One day this week I was engaged with a student about Hoji. This is the tradition where a family who is Buddhist returns one year later to a grave and has a memorial service. We talked of funerals western and eastern. I was able to share with him about the Christian faith. His questions caught me off guard and he can not understand "such a narrow teaching where so many different people who believe so differently are being sent to hell by YOUR loving God?" I have studied many times the apologetic in a classroom or church sanitized setting where the truth is presented in a way that is palatable and God is sovereign and well yes the truth is if someone does not believe in Jesus Christ his work on the cross and resurrection you can not be saved.

I have been teaching this man for 6 months now. Each week he comes in and we share our lives together. I have really grown attached to him more as a friend than as a student. I value his time and respect his person and individuality. Yet at the risk of offending him and loosing his friendship and all I was faced with the reality of the teaching meeting a lost soul square in the face.

I balked for a moment. I really stopped which may have been micro seconds in real time but it was actually feeling like an eternity. As the truth rolled out of my lips something inside me was saying, "Are you hearing this, do you really believe this?" Here is an intelligent man who is a success in society and is very cultured and you are going to relegate him to the teachings of your childhood about  Jesus coming from heaven the virgin birth and resurrection and rapture and new heaven and new Earth? Is this what your going to give to this man?

I realize now this was a spiritual attack. Yet I can't get over all the times before I had thrown the gospel into a "hail mary" type lob into the sea of humanity and who ever gets hit then we go from there. But this was one of the first times where someone I have vested time with someone who is so not saved but I really care about. I can do an out reach anytime anywhere and lob gospel. It feels good. Your doing the work of the Lord. I come from a Christian family, I have Christian friends in the States, When I worked I was surrounded by a wall of Christian customers and vendors. I have been insulated. I have shared with non-believers but it was more in a volley of truth salvos and decimating the relativity of humanistic existential belief.

So here in this moment I balk for the first time truly hearing my message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ come out of my mouth. I have shared and been sharing one on one for many times but there was something different. I was challenged with this truth of the message of Jesus Christ. I, really in that split second, found myself quoting John 6:60 where the disciples say, "this IS a hard teaching. Who can accept it? Especially in Japan?" And then I heard God respond to me clearly, "Does this offend you?"

I went ahead and praise God shared the truth and spoke all I was supposed to say. My friend went away like some of the disciples in John 6 saying this is a hard thing to accept. As I weep over my friends salvation I find myself wanting to color coat the gospel to soften it. I want to give him morsels of truth that will melt his heart like butter and bring him gently like  a 747 landing safely in the arms of Jesus repentant and broken. Yet it doesn't work that way. I want to say just come to church and have fun. Just have a coffee and doughnut and fellowship. Don't worry about the gospel right now let's just get souls to come to church.

There is a church here engaged in the invitation ministry. They are placing thousands of fliers in thousands of mail boxes. They are happy and boast of their faithfulness to "GET THE WORD OUT" campaign. The word on the fliers says come to church and hang out... hear a concert. I am not down playing this at all but when you ask if those handing out the fliers engage the people and have conversations about truth and Jesus they say no. I vehemently oppose manipulation to just get a name on the roster at church. That is deception.

So as I am sitting and reading John 6 again today and thinking on all the ways of truth that are presented for religion and relating to God or a god I found myself rejoicing in the verse of John 6:68 in response to Jesus' question... "Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We (I) believe and know that you are the Holy One of God." I am thinking at how frivolous I have been in my approach to presenting gospel lobbing salvos and now am faced with more focus on expert sharpshooting skill and prayerfully approaching each presentation of the gospel. Eternal life is at stake here we can't take it lightly and think, "Oh well ho hum some day the Lord will get through to them. I did my part." Really? I am engaged in the verse where Jesus says to Paul in Acts 26:18. "I am sending YOU to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.

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