Today I went to get a haircut. If you know me at all you know that sometimes hair cuts go well and sometimes they do not. The reason for this is that I try my best to be a witness for Jesus as I am getting my hair cut. There was that time that I had 1/2 of a hair cut and was ushered to the door. While that is not normal for me it does cause a check in me that makes me wonder how this conversation is going to go.
As a person who is passionate about evangelism I have grown a bit frustrated lately at what I call 'typical evangelism.' This type of evangelism seeks to either convince a person of the existence of God (which is silly to me- because they already know He exists) or convince them of their sinfulness. Ultimately it becomes a sales job. Ask the right questions, lead the conversation properly, press for a decision (to pray a prayer, attend a church, or something). So what is my frustration? Well the easiest way I can explain it is that I have this mental picture of me standing in front of the tomb of Lazarus commanding him to come out. No matter how many times or what manner I command nothing happens -- at all. Then Jesus walks up and simply says, "Lazarus come forth" and the dead man gets up and walks out. Basically nothing I say has any effect on a person. Honestly, if you are passionate about evangelism then why bother if there are going to be no results right? You can tell yourself all day long that it is not about results and you may be able to believe that for a while. But the extent that God has gone to save fallen humanity tells me that He is far more willing to save than I give Him credit for.
So today I sat in the chair and listened to this lady tell me of the fact that her mother was dying and completely afraid of dying. I listened to her tell me of the catholic priests coming in to read her her last rites and pray for her. They lady explained to me that her mother was very religious but that she herself was not so much. She was happy to let people choose which ever way was best for them. Then I explained to her the biblical reasons for why there was sin, suffering, sickness, and death in the world. I explained to her about trusting in the righteousness of the ONe who has been truly righteous. I explained to her about our inability to live up to the standard that God has given us. We talked about belief and what that means. We talked about faith for faith's sake is worthless because faith depends on the object the faith is placed in. We talked about the futility of good works. Nothing I said was anything she disagreed with. Basically it was a replay of the same scene I have seen over and over and over. I am speaking but she is not hearing me. It is just not hitting home. It is like you are trying to convince a person of something, they are telling you they agree, but you can tell they have no idea what you are saying. So frustrating.
So I asked her the strangest question that I think has ever come out of my mouth. I said, "do you want to hear God speak to you right now?" She answered unequivocally "Yes!" So I prayed out loud, "Father this lady wants to hear what you would have to say to her. Show her your love and tell her whatever you want her to hear. In Jesus name, amen." I asked what he said. She said, "Oh my goodness, I have chills all over me! He said for me to be still and know He is God!" She cracked at that moment and the conversation was radically different. She suddenly totally got following the person of Jesus and not following a religion. She began talking about where to take her husband and two boys to church. It was a night and day change.
I talked to this lady for 20 minutes with no visible discernible change. I am 99% sure that what I spoke was extremely doctrinally sound and extremely biblical. Yet my words had no effect. Jesus spoke 7 words to her and it wrecked her.
This is the same person who told the Fisherman to 'follow me' and they left everything immediately and followed Him. This is the same voice that told Lazarus to stop being dead. This is the same voice that told a slew of demons to go and they went. This is the same voice that told lepers to stop being lepers and they were clean.
His words have power, real power. His words bring life, real life.