The longer I knew *Jason, the more I liked him. As political science students in the hub of Washington, D.C. we would talk current events and policy but more often than not our conversations would dig deeper into heart convictions. We were a part of a tight knit Christian college community where we ate, studied, and often walked to our internships together. I noticed even after work and school hours were over Jason could be seen relaxing in a preppy collared shirt and sweater. Clean cut, the kind of guy a good Christian girl would feel good bringing home to mom.
I knew Jason had his issues. He was a former alcoholic and faithfully rode his bike to weekly recovery group meetings. He praised the organization and how it had successfully changed his life. I found it odd that he once called this group his “church” yet I admired his fortitude in staying away from his former vice.
One evening a group of us went grocery shopping. As we were waiting at the check-out line I spotted Jason turning over magazines with explicit photos on their covers. I have done that plenty of times, but it was the only time that in my life I’d ever seen a man do that.
As I lived and breathed life among this group of Christian college students I was drawn to how seriously Jason, above others, took his moral conduct. One day walking home from work our conversation landed on the topic of eternity in Heaven. Jason was great about playing Devil’s advocate and looking at an issue from various points of view. I never had a reason to doubt he was a Christian. One quote of the verse John 14:6 and he totally withdrew. I said the Bible tells us salvation is exclusive; there is only one way to Heaven and that is through Jesus Christ. That was our final conversation of spiritual substance. Later on I found out Jason was an avid follower of Eastern religions.
Looking back I have often wondered what I could or should have done differently. Should I have taken the conversation down a less controversial path? Did I not have the friendship with Jason I thought I had? Did he tune out because other Christians (or the church) had done some damage before I came on the scene? Was I the one who was offensive or was it the Word of God he was rejecting?
It is a point of internal conflict that burdens believers. We must each face the fact that we are torn between the ultimate good in the eyes of society and the ultimate good in the eyes of God. The prized virtue in America is tolerance and acceptance of multiple equally valid “truths.” No one wants to be called a judgmental bigot. The most often quoted Bible verse in America is no longer John 3:16 (about salvation through Christ) instead the best known verse is Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that you be not judged.” (NKJV) It is no longer good enough to speak Truth in an attitude of love, because the Truth itself is labeled intolerant. Sharing openly an unpopular belief can isolate a believer and even lead to discipline in the workplace or school environment.
Through Christ the ultimate good is not to avoid offending, but to lead someone away from a lie and open their eyes to the Truth of God’s Word. Thinking about a friend on the path to Hell and being a part of the process of changing their eternal destiny to Heaven is the most electrifying experience a person can ever have. It is a privilege to be a bearer of Truth.
There are Christians who scream truth from the road side with hate-filled voices holding obnoxious signs. Any scriptural quotes fall on deaf ears because the only thing that can be heard is the hatred. More often than not I think that we as believers honestly err in the other direction. We huddle in our Christian groups and do a big motivational pow-wow. “We are right; the world is wrong”… and then safely return to our homes.
Professional Christians make bold statements to the press while the rest of us cheer them on in front of our TVs. Very little one-on-one relationship is happening between the yoga-loving Buddhist mom and the Christian home school mom whose kids are playing together in the fast food playland.
Fear of offending keeps us from life-changing conversation.
And that brings us back to Jason… I need to have more conversations with “Jasons” and pray that Christ takes control of the words so I can look back without second-guessing.
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”1 Corinthians 1:18 (NIV)
*Name has been changed
Have a relationship with someone like Jason? What has worked in sharing your faith and what hasn’t worked? Have you had regrets about what you did say or things you wish you had said? Please share your thoughts below.