Appreciation vs. Salvation

Fr. is probably the most curious dude I’ve ever met. He puts many a five-year-old to shame. And though he has been extremely hesitant to make a decision for Christ, he’s comes to our Bible study as faithfully as anyone else, and this week, he even brought a friend! Sometimes it’s really difficult to tell if a person’s questions are coming from their head or from their heart. Fr. will ask you a question about anything. He’ll ask me a question about the lesson we just studied, and follow up with a question about American culture. As a general rule, at our Thursday night Bible study, I try to avoid any conversations that aren’t spiritually focused because there’s always someone else in the room that will gladly talk about the Lord with me. No sense spending that precious time on someone who isn’t really interested.

So last week, his questions were erratic and, honestly, a waste of time. So I got out.

This Thursday night we started our new study on the claims of Jesus, asking the question the people asked Jesus in John 8:25, “Who are you?” For the next few weeks, we’re studying who Jesus claimed to be. So we kicked off Thursday with John 10 and the parable of the Good Shepherd. When Jesus said, “I am the good Shepherd,” He was claiming that He loved us enough to die for us. To give His own life for us. So I taught on the test of true love, and God’s proof that He loves us.

So Fr. finds me again this week. And he says, as he usually does, “Excuse me, I have a question.” And then Curious Fr. asks me a sincere question. “Excuse me, I want to know if real Christians are like me.” Strange question. I asked him to elaborate. So he did…

“I really appreciate the Bible. I mean, I really appreciate it. I’ve learned that it has truth and teaches us many things about life. But I’m not a Christian; I mean, I don’t really believe in Jesus and everything. Are Christians the same? Or do they really believe?” Good question. Not sure I know the answer, but…

“Not everyone who claims to be a Christian really believes. But there are some that do. I really believe it, Fr. The Bible can’t just be a good book – it’s either ALL true and the best book ever written, or it’s partly true and the most dangerous book every written. You need to read the Bible personally and make a decision for yourself.” Fr. seems kind of surprised-mixed-with-disappointed. Like he was hoping I’d admit that I don’t really believe all this. But he responds…

“I decided earlier to start reading the Bible for myself everyday and see what I think. I really want to study a lot, maybe for a couple of years, before I make a decision to believe in God and become a Christian.”

“Fr., that’s great that you want to read for yourself, and you absolutely should. But you should also realize the importance of coming to a conclusion quickly about Jesus. If a doctor diagnosed you with cancer, you wouldn’t wait to start treatment. So, Fr., let me tell you, I really believe that you are in danger. So you should study and learn more, but you should also search for the truth quickly.” Fr. agreed to read the Bible this week and talk to me about it next time. I’m praying that we’ll be able to find some more regular means of communication. Pray for him. If he’ll get into the Bible, he’ll either love it or leave it.

Summer has proven to be very interesting. I’m sure not sorry to see it go! Again, most of our key people are out of the city now and won’t be returning for another three weeks or so. The people that are still here are natives and work-a-holics who don’t care about their summer break. A real change in audience. But God has really blessed, and we’ve had great numbers of new students come and fill up the seats of their homeward bound classmates. Pray with us that the new semester will make this small group of new Christians all the stronger and all the more faithful. We’re praying that this handful of believers will be the core for a movement for Christ in this city.

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