Yesterday, walking into a courthouse, a refined woman approached me and said, “Do you know Jesus?” I mumbled something about being late, and walked on. My mind was crammed with thoughts of, “Obviously I know who Jesus is. I live in America, don’t I? Which Jesus do you want to talk about? The mythical? Historical? Teacher, miracle worker? Do you want to talk about the prophecies he allegedly filled, and why the Jews do not hold him as a Messiah? Do you want to talk about Paul’s Jesus, Mark’s Jesus, John’s Jesus, Judas’ Jesus, or Thomas’ Jesus?”
Don’t get me wrong, I do not fault the woman. She has been informed that this is what a God requires her, and she has faith in it like she has faith in the sun. She couldn’t stop believing it any more than she could stop breathing. And I understand how the conversation is supposed to unfold. I am to reply, “Tell me more” and at that point the Holy Spirit is to come swooping in and work his magic, softening my heart.
Yet I began contemplating this momentary encounter and realized what an odd notion it is. I would be surprised, in America, to find anyone that does not know at the least who Jesus is. There would be no expectation of my exclaiming, “Who? I never heard of that person before. Why are you asking me?” That wasn’t what she was asking.
If I had the time and inclination, she would have discovered I know more facts (or lack thereof) and theories (plenty of them!) as to the who, what, and when of Jesus than she did. That wasn’t what she was asking. I could have told her that I, too, had had as much of a personal relationship as any human could to the deity known as Jesus, and that wasn’t what she was asking.
She wanted to “get me saved.”
But why should she have to say anything in the first place? The god that would have created this world certainly has the opportunity to communicate with me. He doesn’t need human intervention to do his work for him. It is as if the Holy Spirit is sitting on the sideline, being held back, “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon. I want to talk to that guy. I really want to work my God magic on his mind, opening him up to the possibility of Jesus. Just ask him. Just talk to him. C’mon.
“Wait…….Here you go. There! Say it! Say it! BINGO! Now that you asked, I am released and I can come in with all my Godly power! Thank goodness that human was around to mention the name ‘Jesus’ or I would never have been able to do my stuff.”
How silly is that notion?
Or worse, what if the Holy Spirit, being in a cantankerous mood, decided that, like Pharaoh, I was going to get the hardening treatment? Instead of helping, He was going to prohibit. At some level, you have to feel a bit sorry for Pharaoh. Sure, he initially decided to not release a slave nation that was lying about going on a holiday for three days when it was really trying to escape. But after God worked him over with a few miracles, the desired effect was achieved—Pharaoh decided to let the people go. Only then did God quash the whole point of the previous miracles by forcing Pharaoh to not give up.
What if He did the same with me? “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon. Talk to the guy. If you don’t talk to him, there is no reason for me to step in. GREAT! You talked to him! Look, he is starting to turn toward you and seems to be ready to ask a question. Looks like I am on! Time to stop this fellow from even thinking about hearing about Jesus. Boy I love my job.”
It is as if God created a world where He is limited by what humans will do, for some strange reason.
We were told that witnessing was as much a benefit for the saved as the unsaved. What possible benefit could this woman receive by being re-buffed by dozens of lawyers? Did she deliberately place herself at a busy intersection, hoping to be constantly turned down? Was this a sign of persecution?
We weren’t people at lunch. We weren’t sitting on a bench enjoying the day. We are on our way to court. She was approaching us at a point in time where nobody has time to sit and chat about Jesus. It should have been expected to not get into a lengthy conversation. Like standing in a busy highway, and being “persecuted” by all those cars swerving and honking. What does one expect?
I get how it is presumed to work. All that is supposed to be needed is a little impetus. A teeny, tiny shove in the right direction. And if the other side is willing to move, even a millimeter, God is supposed to take over. It is amusing when, with people that do not know my background, I am told, “If you would only read just a little bit of the Bible, you would see it is true.” I still read the Bible quite a bit, only as a historical document, not a deity inspired document.
Where is the system breaking down? That fellow holding the “John 3:16” sign at the football game is reaching millions of people. Is that enough? Is seeing a billboard enough? How much of the Bible must one read before God “kicks in” and does the rest? Or are some so hardened, it doesn’t matter what they do, they are doomed from the start?
Why is it that God needs all this work from humans, to get a simple job done? Time to face facts. It isn’t a god that is doing all the work. It is the humans out pushing. If they stopped hawking, lo and behold, God, too, would come to a grinding halt. That should tell us something about the force of god(s) in the world.