Arrived at the park today to find Daniel already in conversation with a lady Agalaia? sitting at a park bench. As I walked into the action, Daniel had opportunity to explain why we were meeting together in the park and what we were doing. This led to questions about her experience and knowledge of God, the Bible and Christianity and some lengthy discussion about whether she knew and cared about her sinful condition in relation to the Law of God.
She admitted she was sinful but thought it didn’t really matter that much because she wasn’t as bad as everybody else at which point we took the time to explain that Jesus said it did matter and that according to God’s standard a lustful look and a hateful thought are as bad before God as the acts of adultery and murder that can follow them.
She was sure that her asking for forgiveness each night would make her right with God and I asked her why she thought God would cancel her debt … if He’s a just God He can’t just ignore her sin and offence … just because she wanted Him too … she had no bargaining power with the God she had offended. I then explained that when a Christian prays, they have to acknowledge that they can only come to God “through Jesus” as their representative, acknowledging by faith that they need His righteousness and His payment for sins to be theirs. This seemed to sink in a little. I also explained that the fact that she prayed to God each night was of no use unless she came to the Father through faith in the Son … she might think she was praying to a God that would forgive her because “she wasn’t that bad” and they “were only little sins” but that to pray to a God in that way was only to pray to a God of her imagination. To pray to the holy, just and living God she needed to come through the person and work of Jesus. She accepted tracts and a Bible and seemed genuinely interested in hearing the gospel.
We then had a short talk with a grandmother and her energetic two year old grandson and Daniel gave her a tract to read and consider. She had a Bible and Daniel encouraged her to read it. We moved on as the little guy was getting pretty toey and we didn’t want to add to the grandmother’s immediate pressure of keeping the two year old out of the river and away from the cars.
It was good to stop and pray for a moment and remind each other of the desperate need for the Holy Spirit to be at work in our work and words and to cast our faith and dependence on Him for the harvest. We contemplated the random nature of our endeavours and how some people just narrowly missed us and others get caught up and engaged in deep conversation. In a few moments we had stopped a young guy, Tim, in trousers and a short sleeved shirt (it was freezing by this stage) and asked him if would mind chatting to us for a minute, about himself and God. He said he would chat to us and he did. He seemed to be quite shell shocked by our intersection into his existence at first and didn’t really open up much more than to say that he wanted to respect religions for the role they have in society and stay out of controversial discussions and viewpoints if possible.
He seemed to work well with logic but was really hard to actually dialogue with as he didn’t want to accept the Bible as an absolute standard of truth. We were able to tell him about the demands of God in the law, how we believed that he had broken that law and how Jesus was the only saviour to pay for the debt that he owed in breaking that law. He paused for long periods of time to weigh up his answers to all our questions and seemed to really try to understand what we were saying.
Tim had no previous knowledge of the gospel, had never read the Bible and seemingly had developed his own post modern worldview where he sought to respect everybody else’s point of view without ever having a particularly strong view for himself on anything except tolerance. He wouldn’t take a tract but was keen to affirm that we were nice guys who had treated him well and that he hoped he had treated us in kind. I was impressed with his sincerity and thoughtfulness and pray that the truth we presented to him might begin to work like yeast in his heart and mind. And that was that.