Yesterday we observed the annual ‘National Night Out’ event put on by local law enforcement and sponsored by Target, for the ‘education’ of the community. It involves recruiting the civilian community to voluntarily “help” the local government agencies, in a public-private partnership to ensure peace and safety. The public is asked to share information on suspicious people or activities in the neighborhood, and to prepare to fill in as emergency management volunteers, in the event of Lord knows what. A huge sign declared, “Police-Community Partnership”, while the speakers blasted a rap song in which the rapper loudly declared, “AS WE MOVE TOWARDS A NEW WORLD ORDER”. That was surreal.
Nevertheless, these kinds of things are just another opportunity to share the gospel. Sharing the gospel is not what event planners have in mind for National Night Out. This would not be welcome here. It is a government and private corporation (Target)sponsored event. To do so would incur some risk. Are we willing to take that risk? How about the risk of being labeled?
As my kids enjoyed the bounce houses, carnival games, and police, fire, and SWAT unit displays, I was thinking of who I could strike up a conversation with, about the Lord. Think of it: the government and corporations stage a free community event, and hundreds of people come to it. What an opportunity.
I ended up having a fascinating conversation with a fire fighter from my city. We were talking about the particular needs of the truly needy homeless people in our city, and how they are being assisted. It was a God given opportunity to witness, as He helped me move the conversation from the “natural to the spiritual”, like Jesus did.
In the course of our conversation, he made the statement that someone in the local news, that we were discussing, was an ‘extremist.’ Wanting him to be clear that this person does not represent Christian beliefs, I explained that her views were not normal/common/orthodox views in any particular religion (I was inferring Christianity but did not want to specify that at that point). He then said that all religions are the same and that if anyone believes in the exclusivity of it too much, or too deeply, (forget how he phrased it), and if the beliefs are different from what everybody else in the community believes, then they are extremist and fanatic. I decided to use this as an opportunity to share the gospel, through a bit of apologetics and the topic of ‘truth’.
I told him that the different religions each have a set of beliefs, and they are not all the same. Then I went on to say that if they are different they can’t all be true, there can only be one that is True. Then I talked about how the postmodern view says truth is relative and not knowable, that one cannot know truth, etc (I expounded on postmodern thought versus the fact that Truth still exists whether we want to acknowledge or believe it).
Anyway, I built all this up in order to get to this: sharing the verse John 14:6. I told him that this (not what the lady in the news is saying) is biblical Christianity. I wanted him to be clear on what Christians believe, so he does not think there is any connection between what Christians believe, and what this lady is saying.
So after I quoted John 14:6 to him, I told him that Jesus is not only saying there is such thing as Truth, but that He IS the Truth.
It was great: he stood there looking deeply into space thinking, and he kept saying, “Hm. Hm…..”
Then he ‘woke up’ out of his thought and realized I was sharing the gospel with him and said he could not talk anymore but had to get back to work and I said “no problem!” cheerfully, as I shook his hand and said that this was just some food for thought. : )
I’m thankful a seed was planted. But my point to you is, that this nice intelligent fireman has learned to think that anyone with exclusive or deeply held views, or beliefs that are not “shared by the community”, are extremist and fanatic. And according to this worldview, John 14:6 must sound ‘extreme’.
Saints, one day, Christianity, the Bible and sharing the gospel will be illegal. It will not fit in with the “new” global-political-spiritual arrangement that the rapper was boldly announcing to us. It will be declared intolerant, extremist and fanatic. To believe, preach and witness will incur risk. Will we take the gospel, with trust in our Savior, with love, to the people? Will we risk- to the end?
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” (Ps.44.22.) But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom.8:35-39.