What do you usually do when you are confronted with someone who strongly disagrees with the message of the gospel of Jesus?
Bob had a serious edge to him. His mind, words, and questions stirred up the Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship chapter at Ohio University. Many tried to befriend him, but he enjoyed asking challenging questions about the Christian faith and arguing back and forth with many students, including student leaders and staff.
It would have been easy to try and ignore Bob, or even ask him not to hang around. What are you going to do with someone of his intellectual prowess? He appeared to be unmovable in his attitude about Christians, defiant in his objections, and stubborn about the reality of God.
Many tried words. Many listened for underlying assumptions for his reasoned defiance to the teachings of Jesus. Many spoke confidently and lovingly about the Creator and Sovereign Lord of all, the God who revealed Himself in history, nature, to the Israelites in particular, and most clearly and succinctly in the person of Jesus. Many asked questions as to what Bob believed what he did and why he believed it. Many prayed and fasted for Bob’s salvation.
Ultimately, the Lord (who knows what He is doing) used the changed lives of Bob’s friends to reach him. He could not refute the difference in thought, word, and behavior he observed in those closest to him. Somehow Bob began to realize that no matter how good he thought he was – especially in comparison, he argued, to those weak-minded Christians who needed the crutch of Christianity – he could never measure up to God’s standard.
Bob finally humbled himself at the feet of Jesus and fell broken. He received salvation and began to serve Him on campus. No more sharp edges. No more attitude. No more arguments. Peace, contentment, and a concern for others began to emerge as descriptions of the new Bob. Word spread on campus of his change. He passed from death to life and it was impressive. The process taught students valuable lessons of what it meant to work with God. Nice work, Lord.
Read Exodus 34:1-10.
Moses said in verses 6 and 7: “The Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, (is) slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” That is whom Bob met at Ohio University.
Do you know any people with sharp edges? Learn from our experience with Bob not to give up on them too soon. Keep praying for them. Ask them what they believe and why (without badgering them every time you see them). Keep speaking of the Lord of Exodus 34:6-7. Plead with God to open their eyes and heart and mind…even though they are stiff-necked (v 9)…and hold steady that they will turn to Christ and repent. Then trust God to do it on His timetable. Remember that God doesn’t change everyone’s mind in a sheer instant after you pray a prayer.
Allow folks to hear and see of the relationship you have with Jesus. Hopefully, like Bob’s experience, your pal(s) will be taken to the edge of themselves and see the light. Keep talking. Keep praying. Trust God to take care of your sharp edges and those of the Bob’s in your life. Serve globally. A persistent witness is an effective witness.
Love is a verb,
©2014 by Mike Olejarz