For years, Amy and I have been customers at a dry cleaner which is owned and operated by a very kind family from India. I remember that this family hand-delivered flowers to our home after Amy got out of the hospital following the auto collision which changed our lives forever. The sweet family wanted to show their kindness and I never even learned how they figured out where we lived. Over the years we have prayed for them, responded to their kindness with kindness of our own and, when opportunity presented itself, shared the love of God and message of Christ with them. Truthfully, their responses have been cordial but clearly disconnected from the urgency of what we are sharing with them. In India there are countless gods and their beliefs do not embrace the idea of the reality that there is only one God, His name being Jesus Christ the Lord.
This morning, the patriarch of the family unexpectedly opened up a conversation with me about the violence in the Middle East, the outbreak of Ebola, raging fires, earthquakes and the seeming presence of global chaos. It was unsolicited commentary he gave and he mentioned to me that it seems as if everything is falling apart. I delicately began to share (in a very non-confrontational manner) how the Christian bible actually prophesies events like these and declares that they will only intensify before the end of the age. Now engaged, he commented more about how there would be no stopping it and “the end” must certainly be near. I then took the moment to tell him that these indicators should create in us an urgency to be ready for the end before it actually arrives.
He threw his head back and laughed out loud and told me, “Get ready for it? What do you mean? There is nothing which can be done!”
For about five seconds neither of us said a word and during those silent ticks of the clock I realized that he had just summarized his entire theology in one sentence. When I resumed the conversation, seeking to steer us toward talking about what Jesus accomplished in His first coming so that we need not fear anything prior to His second coming, the sweet man’s interest in continuing the discussion faded. We moved from discussing the eternal to discussing dry cleaning. I pulled away in my truck with a heavy heart.
Jesus Christ provides us a relationship which infuses all of existence with meaning and hope. My friend declared that there is nothing which can be done for us. Fatalistic philosophy seems to have doomed his outlook and he powerlessly laughed at the idea that anything could change the scenario of helplessness. I am not criticizing him at all. I am remembering thinking and feeling exactly the same way for many years of my life. Aimless, pointless, hopeless human existence was a hollow echo which looped repeatedly on my mind’s MP3 player. This man believes in the supernatural but he does not believe in a personal God who has committed Himself to the work of rescue. He does not believe in a God who has entered the human experience so that we might know Him. He does not believe that this God infuses time and space with meaning and purpose. My friend from India scoffs at the belief that there is a God who responds to the needs of the helpless. He believes in a multitude of gods but has no confidence that a single one of them has interest in him. I know otherwise and am convinced that Jesus Christ deeply loves this man – the same way He loves me and He loves you. It is personal with Him and He acted in such dramatic fashion so as to eradicate the notion of “there is nothing that can be done” away from our minds. Death is the greatest and ultimate villain and Jesus came to conquer death and to revoke its final say-so over humanity. My friend is right in his belief that none of us can forbid the end from coming. He is, however, patently incorrect in his belief that we cannot escape the end before it comes. There is a final chapter for this world and this age. But those in Christ have already been written into the sequel and it is going to be glorious.
Think upon a friend who needs Jesus today but does not know it. Pray that He will show that person what He has shown you about Himself. Pray that they will recognize that there is something that can be done.
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