I wasn't feeling well today. I think I ate some bad crawfish and got really sick last night, so I slept until almost 2pm. When I woke up, I rushed out the door. I set a goal to talk to 5 people, because witnessing opportunities may be few over the next few days. My wife's leaving for a ladies' retreat, leaving my two sons and I to party hard!
So I headed to my new fishing hole. Suprisingly, there were very few people there. Maybe they were all in class. I found a gentleman sitting near the UL library. Sherman was very nice, even though he could only name 3 of the 10 commandments. He knew the gospel, sort of, but said he'd never had anyone put it to him in such an easy to understand way. He admitted that although he goes to church every Sunday, he was not born again. He seemed sincere in his desire to repent and trust in Jesus, so I asked him if he wanted to do that now, or if he felt more comfortable praying in private. I asked him, "I bet you've prayed the sinner's prayer at least once in your life, right?" He shook his head yes, with a somber look on his face. "But a prayer doesn't save you. Neither does all your effort, going to church, or anything else you do. God sees your righteousness as filthy rags. Know why? You have a rap sheet of crimes you've comitted against God. Jesus paid your penalty, and God offers forgiveness to you if you repent and trust in Jesus. But tonight may be your last chance to do that. You're one heartbeat away from stepping into eternity. Then it's Heaven or Hell, forever. Please get right with God tonight, before it's too late. God loves you and He wants to save you, if you turn to Him in repentance and trust." Sherman thanked me for talking with him, and he said he knew that our conversation was a divine appointment.
I headed toward the union, and kept right on going past the union. Whoops. Not many people there, except people in a hurry. So I meandered to the quad, where a young man named Brian sat on a bench by himself. He gave me a run for my money, naming 7 of the 10 commandments in 30 seconds to capture the record. I knew he was in trouble, though, when he said, "You shall not covet your neighbor's wife. You shall not covet your neighbor's goods." Friend, if you're Catholic and reading this, I say this with love in my heart - go get yourself a bible and read Exodus 20. Compare it to the Catholic church's version of the ten commandments. How come they split commandment 10 into two, and removed number 2?
You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
They've removed God's command against idolatry from the ten commandments? Why? I'll leave you to wrestle with that.
Brian, like the rest of us, admitted that he's a liar, a theif, and an adulterer at heart. But he said that all he had to do was ask for forgiveness. I went over a number of examples to show him that he doesn't think that way in his interractions with others. So why should a holy God be any different? I talked to him about judgment, the cross, and the need to repent and trust in Jesus. He was polite, but not really interested in changing his way of thinking.
The third and final conversation almost cost me $20.00. Devin named eight of the 10 before the beep of my watch. He's a Christian, but wasn't sure what it meant to be "born again." After going through the commandments, the cross, judgment, repentance and faith, and challenged him: "So I'm a pretty good Buddhist. Am I OK?" He couldn't bring himself to tell me that I wasn't okay on judgment day. So I reasoned with him that our righteousness is like filthy rags. "Why?" I asked him. He thought for a minute. I said, "Because you're guilty of a life of rebellion toward God. He sees your thought life. Just 3 sins a day means you've committed 1,000 crimes against God every year of your life. Now you may have done a million good things, but what kind of judge is going to let you go with a rap sheet like that?" It looked like a lightbulb went off in his head as he shouted, "OHHHHHH!" It was a very neat conversation.
I'm excited and encouraged. The $20.00 question gets people's guard down, and by the time they're in a spiritual conversation, they are on the clock and the pressure's on. They have no chance to say, "Well I don't talk about religion," because they'll miss their chance to show off their knowledge and win the $20.00.
Eventually, someone will win the $20.00. Tomorrow maybe, but not today.