24 August 2009

You Are Loved, Too

Why is this guy still talking to me...?

I admit that I strongly dislike mingling and small talk with people I do not know too well. I'm an obvious introvert and don't care much for awkward conversations with people I will never see again. My new husband is the exact opposite. He thrives on conversations with new people and can't pass up an opportunity to have an in-depth conversation with the cashiers at WalMart. He's the life of the party; I'm the person who quietly talks to some close friends, away from the center of focus.

Imagine my discomfort, then, when an associate from a jewelry store inside Polaris insisted on talking to me as I was passing by. All I wanted was to pick up a new "I am Loved" button in a new language to add to my collection(http://www.iamloved.org/), but the salesman spotted me and approached me before I could hurry on my way.
I hope he's not going to try to convince me to buy a diamond ring, I could help but to think. The man instead asked me a whole bunch of questions about my personal life. Why did I collect these buttons? Did I know any foreign languages? Greek and Hebrew? Why those ones? Where was I going to college? What was I studying?
There was a slight pause in the conversation when I told him that I was pursuing a degree in Biblical studies. A flicker on interest seemed to shimmer in his eyes.
"What do you want to do with that?"
A little agitated with his endless supply of questions, I politley answered and made up an excuse about time. That's always a good, American excuse.

As I was walking away, it suddenly hit me that I had the opportunity to share what I believed with that jeweler. I didn't even have to set up the road to Calvary myself: All I had to do was ask him if he had ever read the Bible. I was rather shocked that the idea of telling him about what Jesus was doing in my life never had even occurred to me. I told him that I wanted to teach others about the Bible, but I didn't even take the time to teach him about the Bible.

I've been learning this summer to view every single circumstance with spiritual lenses on. The present world is not solely physical. Everything that is physical also has a spiritual entanglement. Perhaps things should not even be defined as "physical" or "spiritual." We as Christians need to see the spiritual in every encounter, every conversation, every action. The battle may have already been won, but we have seemed to forgotten that the battle for God's kingdom is still through our efforts joined with our King's.
There is a world filled with a countless number of souls who are headed for hell. Countries try to destroy the message of Jesus Christ because, as Richard Dawkins attests, religion is the weakness and threat to society. YouTube has a "Blasphemy Challenge" where thousands of people deny Christ on video for the rest of the world to see. Somehow, though, we shrug this off and conclude that evangelism is for hyper-Christians like Billy Graham and missionaries like Hudson Taylor.

Matthew 28:19-20, frequently referred to as the "Great Commission" passage, commands Christ followers to make disciples (notice it does not say "believers"-- but that is another topic for another time). The interesting thing about this command is that in the original Greek language is says that Christians should make disciples "as they go." There is no destination.

Some Christians may be called to a career in an organized ministry, but all Christians are called to full-time ministry.

Witnessing is not an option. It is not a "spiritual gift." It is not a task set aside for a select group. It is not something that we should wait until "God calls" us to do it. So many times I hear Christians claim that they didn't sense that "God was telling" them to talk to someone about Jesus, so they didn't do it. Claiming this is like saying that they didn't sense God telling them to love someone. Just as God has already told us to love others in Scripture, so also has He already told us to tell others about him in Scripture.

I have been trying to apply this command to witness to others "as I go" throughout my daily life. I now see why Aaron is so eager to talk to the waiter at Southside Diner, the greeter at WalMart, and our next door neighbors. Ever if he is not talking to them about Jesus directly, he is still sending the message that they are valued and worth talking to. I now try to strike up conversation, even though I am still a little uncomfortable with it. And, everytime I walk by that jewelry store, I look for that jeweler who challenged me. I intend to finish our conversation where we last left off and communicate to him the message on the buttons that I had previously ignored. I think I'll even approach him first myself.