All Things to All People

The last while, God has been impressing on me the importance of following His Spirit. Even though I believe in the Holy Spirit, many times I live as though He doesn’t exist. This is, as one person has said, “Christian atheism” because I call myself a Christian but don’t live as if God really existed. I want to relate one of those crazy experiences that nobody conjures but simply comes out of obedience to the Holy Spirit.

Saturday morning I was working in my office, editing a personal video project. It was a video of a talk I gave a week ago. In that talk, I said that sometimes God gives us very specific directions, and other times it’s up to us to live out what God has revealed in His Word. Now, even though I have an intellectual belief that God can speak that specifically to us, I don’t actually believe that in practice. Most of the time, I find reasons to suppress the voice of God if I think it’s too specific. “It’s crazy.” “It’s probably not God.” “I don’t want to do that.”

Well, I was in the middle of the video project when God arrested my attention with a specific intersection in town. I felt like I was supposed to take a Bible down to that intersection. The crazy thing was that as soon as that thought hit me, I knew it was a God thing. I immediately saved my work, locked my computer, and was ready to leave. But then I hesitated. “What am I doing? This is crazy! What voice am I listening to, anyway?” After all, this was May 21. Who would pick a day like this to look like a religious fanatic carrying a Bible?

But then, I gave in to God. However, in my debate and hesitation, I almost walked out without a Bible. I walked over to the bookshelf to see what I could find. All I found was a big, fat, blue hardback Bible on the bottom shelf. Why weren’t there any less religious-looking Bibles on that shelf? Seriously!

I grabbed the Bible, locked up, walked out to my car, and put the key in the ignition when God got my attention all over again. “Walk, don’t drive.”

“Okay, God, you want me to carry this Bible down the street looking like an idiot?”

I started walking towards the drive when I saw someone pulling in to stop by the office. I thought to myself, “I am not going to look like an idiot walking out the drive with a Bible,” so I turned around, unlocked the office, and pretended like I was there to work. Meanwhile, the questions kept running. “Why a big fat Bible? Why not YouVersion on my Droid?” But then I thought, “Maybe God wants me to give this Bible away.” Believe me, there were more arguments within myself, but you don’t want to hear them!

Gah! I gave in to God all over again. Out the door I go with a big, fat, blue hardbacked Bible in my hand. What an image–walking down the street with my big, fat blue Bible! This sounds ridiculous, but I turned the cover towards me so that people might just think it’s a resource book or something, not a Bible!

Several blocks down, I passed a door-to-door salesperson selling security systems across the street. He yelled a greeting to me, then called out, “Is that a copy of the Scriptures in your hand?”

I responded, “Yes,” then crossed the street to talk with him. He treated me like a brother. “The Scriptures are so amazing; I love the Scriptures. What’s your name? Are you going to church or something?”

I told him, “Nope, I just felt like God was telling me to take my Bible and walk down this way, and that maybe He had someone I was supposed to talk with.”

Now there’s something silly about me. Whenever I get stuck in situations, I resort to the only thing I know to do. I asked him, “Do you mind if I pray a blessing over you?”

So there we stood, in the middle of the road, as I started praying for him. Oops, car coming! “Uh, can we step off to the side?” So I prayed for Him. “God, reveal more of yourself to Him. Holy Spirit, bring revelation to Him. God, do not withhold any good thing from His life.”

When I finished praying, he was very grateful and asked me, “Where do you go to church?”

I told him, then I asked him. He told me, “The Church of the Latter Day Saints.”

Then he asks me, “Can I see your Bible? I want to show you a verse. He carefully flips through the Bible to the book of John, where he reads me his favorite verse, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Immediately my mind went down all the religious tracks. Okay, so what kind of argument can I pull out to convince him that he’s deceived? Why do I have to know so little about this belief? Hmm, what should I do? He gave an invitation to check out LDS. What should I tell him? Part of me said I really ought to debate with him, yet there was nothing inside of me that wanted to debate him.

I ended up saying very little, except affirming his faith in Jesus. As we parted ways, I asked myself the question, “Am I just going over the edge, favoring relationships and neglecting truth?” But then I had to ask the question, “What if?”

“What if this man is seeking for the truth? How is this man different from anyone else in any other place? What if God just wanted permission to do a work in his life? If so, how would he do it? Wouldn’t He get one of His sons or daughters to pray, using their authority in Christ to release God to do the work that He wants to do?”

After this encounter, I felt like I was “done”. I spent some time just sitting on a park bench pondering what had happened. As I was walking back to the office, I remembered these verses from 1 Corinthians 9 that I had read earlier in the week:

Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Here’s what I realized: maybe God wanted me to look like a religious fanatic so that this man would identify with me and see me as a brother. Maybe God made a way for me to gain entry into his life that I would not have been able to get any other way. I didn’t have to wear a white shirt, black pants, and a tie. All it took was a big, fat, blue hardbacked Bible.

That, and obedience to the Spirit of God.

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