I've had a pretty interesting week. I know, with Thanksgiving this week, I'm sure most everyone could say the same thing, but I'm not talking about Thanksgiving at all. I've had kind of a different sort of week, one that leaves me hoping that the people of my church can overlook my negligence. I simply have had no time this week to visit with my own people, as I've had several opportunities to spend time with folks outside of the church. In fact, Monday and Tuesday of this week I went from one meeting to another, throughout both days. On Tuesday, I had breakfast with a couple of folks who simply were needing some advice... or maybe it would be better to just say they needed someone to listen, because while they thanked me repeatedly for my advice, the truth is they talked through their issue on their own, and all I did was provide a save place for them to work it out verbally. After that meeting, I met with another man who was searching for some answers and the Lord opened a door to share with him a Biblical approach to dealing with a major issue that had come up in his life. The way that the conversation turned and opened the opportunity to share a piece of my testimony was just miraculous. It could not have been scripted or planned any better!
I then had an opportunity to have coffee and lunch with a young lady who is in college, and again, I was just amazed at how our conversation turned to spiritual matters although that was not the purpose of our meeting. We had just not had the chance to talk for many months and we agreed to meet, but somehow the door opened. This young woman is a Christian, but like many of us in life, is at times questioning her faith and searching for real meaning and purpose of that faith. We had a very good and enjoyable talk, but after she left, I found myself thinking, "how did that happen?" and hoping that I had not scared her off or come across as "preachy" to her. (If you happen to be reading this, and I did, I apologize!)
While I was clearing our table, my phone rang and it was another young lady asking if I could meet with her. She seemed rather stressed, so I cancelled another appointment, and simply stayed right where I was, at Innkeepers, and waited for her to arrive. It was through this meeting and conversation that the twists, turns and events of the week just seemed to come into perspective for me. It was like God just dropped this last appointment into my lap so that it would sum up what had been going on throughout the week. I will not go into the purpose for our meeting, as that is too personal, but as we were talking, she asked me a question that may sound insulting, but it was not intended that way. It was sincere. She asked said to me, "I don't get the whole church thing or being a Christian. What makes you think that God needs you to be telling anyone else how to live? How do you know your way is the right way?" I know it was the Holy Spirit that put these words in my mouth, as I said, "I'm just carrying on the family business." She looked and me speechless for what seemed like several minutes, and finally said, "can you explain what you mean? I'm not much on religion." My response was that it was a good thing that she was not wrapped up in religion, because religion just screwed up the whole thing anyway, and that Jesus was not interested in our religion, but rather in our lives.
It was at this point that my week began to come into perspective, and I began to share with her the events of the last few days of my life. As I shared with her how that I had not been able to do all the things I had planned for the week, and had instead been going from one appointment to another meeting with people with real life issues. I told her that when Jesus was on the earth, the "religious" crowd was always upset with him and accusing him, because he hung with the "sinners"... the everyday people. I said, "many people think God wants his people to be all religious and sit in church all the time, but what he wants from his church is for us to be out among the people... just as he was."
WWJD? I believe Jesus would leave the 99 to go after the one in need.
As I told this young woman this week, this gospel message that I believe and preach is much more than a bedtime story or a fairy tale. It is real. It happened. Jesus came, lived and died and left each of us that believes in him with a challenge to live our lives differently. He's not looking for us be "religious, but rather to live in a way that makes a difference. Our lives should forever be changed because of Jesus. Too many people go to church, yet live their life as though what Jesus did does not make a difference. Their life Monday through Saturday does not reflect what they sing about on Sunday. It's because they do not comprehend that when they came to know Jesus, Jesus put them in charge of carrying on the family business. He has entrusted us with a truth so great that it has the power to transform lives. As partners in this family business, life for us is simply about advancing the truth... "for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son..."
Are you advancing the cause? Are you carrying on the "family business"?