Tag Archives: privatization of religion

Day 13: Different Hearts

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He was a white man. He looked around 60. I thought, “Oh boy, these are the type that often get annoyed when I try to speak. But, you never know!”

I started, “Hello sir, my name is Paul and this is my friend Ashar. We’re from the church just on the other side of those buildings over there. And we’re out talking to people about the Gospel. Do you have a religious background?”

With anger in his eyes, he shot back, “Religion. You want to talk about religion!” I knew this wouldn’t please him, but with a smile I gently replied, “Well, Jesus.” This just set him off. He responded by swearing at us and accused us of harassment.

By the grace of God, I remained calm and gently drew his attention to the fact that he was the one yelling and swearing at us. Then we walked away, but only to get another ear full of this man swearing and shouting at us and even saying, “I don’t care what you do, go sleep around with whoever you want; do what whatever you want, just don’t talk to me about religion!”

I wondered, “What happened to him in years gone by? What was his experience of Church? What kind of Christian exposure has he had? Why such intense hostility toward God?” His heart appeared to be as hard as the hardest rock could be! But Jesus is still mighty to soften and save. So we prayed for him.

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Yet, not long after that experience, we crossed the road and found another man waiting for a bus. This man was likely in his 40’s, a Jamaican man, out doing some job hunting. He gladly heard the message of the Gospel. Not only that, he let a number of buses pass by simply to listen, learn and to ask questions. We had the Bible out and looked at some Scripture. He shared a bit of his story and seemed moved by the main theme of our conversation: Jesus came to save his people from their sins.

He was very thankful for what we shared and expressed serious interest in visiting our church. We prayed for the Lord to provide him with a job, but in such a way that it would be unmistakeably from above.

Different Hearts

Now, I’m not saying the Jamaican man is seeking God; I don’t know (even Herod wanted to meet Jesus and Felix gladly listened to Paul).  One thing was obvious however: he was more open to learning about Jesus than the other man.

The two men seemed so different; I mean, their hearts were different. One was intensely hostile to even speaking about God. Talking about God was like death to him! The other man had an appetite to learn more about Jesus. He seemed sincerely sobered by the truths that Jesus came for sinners and that forgiveness is gained by faith in Christ’s work alone.

So what?

Well, there are two things:

1) Don’t be discouraged by hostility. People’s hearts are in different conditions (just like their bodies!). Even if you meet a number of people who are hostile to the Gospel, take heart, there may be someone else right around the corner who is willing to listen. Keep fishing.

2) Pray for God to humble hearts. Think  of the soils that Jesus speaks about in Matthew 13. The only way for the seed of the Gospel to actually take root and bear fruit is when it’s cast on good soil. Good soil is a humble heart.

So, let’s press on in the work our Lord – To Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

The Privatization of Religion in Canada

John C. and I were out at the bus stops at Islington and Elmhurst yesterday. I approached an elderly man, offering him the 10 commandment coin. He refused. I explained to him that we are out on the streets spreading the Gospel, and asked if we could talk for a bit while he waited for his bus. He agreed and started to talk about war. Later, I realized that he misunderstood me, for he originally thought I was asking him to teach me. He argued that we need a pope in Israel.

I asked, “Oh, are you Catholic?” “Yes,” he replied. I inquired about whether or not he thought God would accept him or reject him if he were to die. He was not happy with my question, and responded, “why are you talking to me?” “Because Jesus commands me to preach the Gospel.”  He looked disgusted. Pulling out my little Bible, I said, “Here, I will show you where Jesus commands this.” He said, “No, don’t read that to me.” I said, “You don’t want to hear the Bible?” He insisted that I not read from the Bible on the streets. He said that such a thing is to be done in the church. The he said, “What you need to do is go to South East Asia and preach there.” I don’t doubt that South East Asia has great need for the Gospel, but so does Toronto!

I tried to persuade him that the Scriptures teach that we are to spread the Word everywhere and that even Jesus taught on the beaches and mountains. He did not want to hear it. I transitioned back to my original question: “if you were to die today, do you believe that God would accept you reject you?” He said, “If he was sleeping.” I said, “What if he is not sleeping?” With a jot of humour he replied, “Then we’ll get drunk. Eat, drink, and tomorrow we . . . (he could not remember the end of the phrase, but eventually went on) . . . work.” If my memory is correct, I think John C. said, “die,” in order to help the man (“… tomorrow we die”).

I thought, “what a great time to go to 1 Corinthians 15.” I said, “The Bible speaks of this idea. Let me show you what the Bible says about this.” I really wanted to go to 1 Corinthians 15 (for Paul approves of this mindset ONLY IF there is no resurrection from the dead . . . BUT there is a resurrection from the dead). Again, he did not want to hear from the Bible. He said, “Don’t read it. You should do that in private! It is to be done in secret. That is to be done in the church – not out here.” I said, “That is not what the Bible says. The Bible says that I am commanded to preach everywhere.”

I considered how old he is and that he may not have any contact with people who know and preach the Gospel. I was sincerely concerned for his eternal destiny. Without anger, but in gentleness and boldness, by the grace of God, I told him, “You will go to hell if you do not respond to this.” He turned from me, took a few steps away, and looked down the street awaiting the bus. He was still within about five feet of me (certainly within an ear shot).  With sincere concern for his soul, I felt compelled to speak. By the grace of God, with sternness I spoke thus: “I will speak for no more than one minute before I go, but I have something to say: salvation has come near to you today; you will be judged; before it is too late, you need to turn to God and trust in the work that Christ did and not your own works; I hope to see you again.”

You never know how the Lord will use this call. God is mighty to save. And what about the privatization of religion in Canada? This man was simply saying out loud what many Canadians hold deep in their hearts. The reason for this is simple – people love peace more than truth. The problem with this love affair is that they fail to learn where true peace is found.  How do we as Christians respond to this tenet which is so prevalent in our culture? Well, God is not silent on this issue – may his voice have an effectual force on his church in Canada: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20, emphasis mine).

Church in Canada: arise, let us hear the call of Christ our Captain!