DAY 4 – THE QUESTION BEHIND A CIGARETTE

The first lecture ends and I get up to take a drink. I tell him I brought him lunch, and he sounds pleased, saying, “I’m glad you didn’t run out of bread this morning!” I’m about to show him food that doesn’t spoil or run out. I wonder what he’ll think of that.

Lunch time and we have a feast! We talk about mixed marriages, as we have an American-Japanese sitting with us. Patrick makes a comment on how much these people overcome culturally, and how that’s something quite admirable and we shouldn’t take it lightly. He’s wise, and seems to think deeply about things.

On the bus to the field trip and I overhear a conversation, or debate, about women being in the front lines of an army. This woman is trying to defend that argument so stubbornly – it’s as if she ever conceded that women couldn’t fight in a war, she would be saying that women and men are not equal in the kingdom. That’s not the case, unless you believe unisex boxing should be legalized. Men and women have different roles to play on earth – both noble and worthy.

Walking through the woods, I ask Patrick what he thinks about Scotland. He tells me there’s a cloud hanging over the people there – they are a bit melancholic. I’m surprised at the vivid description. I press in further and ask about his visa status. He has six months, and hopes to get a job. He says the future is uncertain and he usually takes his time to make decisions. I agree and tell him you never know what will happen – life’s pretty crazy sometimes.

I feel in an almost comical position. It’s like I can see Patrick’s life on one side and the Mack truck that’s about to hit it on the other side, and he has no idea its coming.

We stop for a while and Patrick gets out a cigarette. I stare at him and we talk about the reasons why you would smoke. He says for some enjoyment and I say you could find the same joy from things that aren’t bad for you. Patrick replies with something amazing.

“Well, if people knew they could find enjoyment from things that aren’t bad for them, why don’t they do it?”

I’m awestruck at the simplicity and truth of the question. Yes, why don’t they? I see he’s put his cigarette away. Good.

I ask him what he does for fun, and he replies with the usual tings. He also says he’s catholic, and that’s something that infuses his life. I want to ask him whether all that he does makes him happy – how I know people who have met Christ are always filled with joy.

Patrick, you’re going to live life as it should be lived – full of color and joy in the LORD. Be excited! Get ready for day 5!

Terence

________________________________________________________________________

Thoughts from Joel:

“Well, if people knew they could find enjoyment from things that aren’t bad for them, why don’t they do it?”

This single question.

To me, this question is the reason Christians must be examples of their faith – sharing it through the means they’re given. It’s a very convicting thought, to think that we don’t share our faith with people when we know the things our faith can accomplish. I think about it as the same basic concept of someone discovering the cure to cancer, only to tell a select few about it for fear that not everyone would believe it’s true. You might be saying, “That’s nothing alike! You’d have to be an idiot to be afraid of curing cancer!”  But think about it. The only reason not to share the cure for cancer would be if you weren’t sure it actually worked! Do we find ourselves questioning whether our salvation works?

Even with the occasional questioning of our faith (which will happen), another reason we’ve concocted to avoid sharing our faith is the fear of offending. This fear has begun to run rampant in Christianity, and I see it in myself constantly as something I’m always working to overcome. We’re constantly telling ourselves that we don’t want to offend a friend or lose a friendship because of our boldness, constantly validating our insecurities.

But we must ask ourselves this one stinging question: If a friend decides to neglect you because you shared your faith with them, are they really a friend? Is it really that offensive to share a belief with someone, especially a belief Christians believe has the power to save our souls? If a friend abandons you because of this, many times it means they’ll be thinking about it, so we must be proactive in this situation, continuing to show them Christ’s love, and constantly praying for them.

We must share our faith out of love for the people around us. We’re all in the same world, asking the same questions, yet some people have never heard the most important answer because the people around them were afraid they wouldn’t take it well.

By not telling someone of the one thing that can save their souls for eternity – especially someone we claim to care about – we do nothing except show how little we truly care about them; leading them along the path towards hell.

Convicting? It should be. We have to realize that when we make excuses to share our faith, even when we hear the spirit calling us, we are letting someone travel towards hell.  I have let many people take that road, and it breaks my heart.

Praying for boldness,

Joel

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