Friday, July 22, 2005

A Divine Setup

You know, I used to be "one of those Protestants" (how's that for rude!) who looked for ways to introduce the Gospel message into any (repeat: ANY) conversation, whether the initial topic had anything to do with Christ, faith, or religion, or not. I did what you'd call "cold calls for Jesus," I guess, in which I approached people and initiated conversations (sometimes with total strangers) about whether or not they had accepted Christ or not and asked them if they knew where they'd go if they died right now, etc. (those of you from similar backgrounds know the drill).

Anyway, suffice it to say that the emphasis within Orthodoxy on working out one's OWN salvation has definitely stopped that trend, so much so that I can't for the life of me remember the last time I actually initiated a conversation about the whole "plan of salvation." I've given my testimony plenty of times since then (folks tend to ask what you are when you cross yourself backwards over a plate of lentils and rice in the middle of March), but last night was what you'd call a "divine setup." Two neighbors from down the street came over last night to have dinner. They, like us, have a newborn, and are quite a bit like us in terms of personality, so we had a great time, good dinner, etc.

As folks who have newborns know, it's a rare occassion for both parents of said newborn to eat at the same time, as said newborn will demand attention and/or food from at least one parent. So the men took the first shift at the dinner table, while the women cared for the infants. After we finished, we took the babies and, while the women ate, we sat down with our daughters and talked. He had seen the numerous icons up around our house, had given a polite "Amen" after we had asked the blessing, and had heard me mention that we were Orthodox. He basically asked me what that was, since he was pretty much not a member of any kind of faith. For the first time that I can remember, I did the whole sh-bang: started at the Fall of man, where we became mortal, and went through the Incarnation, where God takes on our mortal flesh and redeems our nature; spoke on the Crucfixion, where death took Life Himself, and the Resurrection, where Life beats Death. Spoke on baptism, wherein we die with and are risen with Christ, thus being forgiven of sins, and the oil wherein we receive the Holy Spirit and are restored to communion with God. Spoke on the Eucharist, whereby we receive the Body and Blood of Christ, which mingles intimately with our own, thus realizing this communion.

Did all this in about five minutes (at the absolute max) and in a way that (I would hope) the simplest plowman would get. Thankful for the opportunity, and hope the Lord blesses it, but...and here's the big difference between my days as Baptist lay evangelist and now...I carry with me no preconceptions about what happens or should happen next, no prayers that God would bring him to a decision yesterday (if anything, I'm praying that nothing I did screwed up the opportunity). If the Spirit moves on what I did, thanks be to God. If not, it's His show. Now begins the hard stuff: living my faith in such a way so that I can be living bread to them, yet without trying to "spring the J-word on 'em" in some artificial manner the next time I see them.

Glory to God in all things...


Rhology said...

So are you saying that your conversion to E Orthodoxy has occasioned you to share your faith with the lost *less* often than if you had not?

David Bryan said...

Guess it'd depend on what you mean by "share your faith." If you mean opportunities in the sense of "number of people I've mentioned it to," then yes. If you mean "number of high-quality conversations I've had with folks since converting," then no. I'd like to think I'm much more sensitive to whether or not people are going to listen, and much more determined to develop a friendship with them first before going into details about my relationship with Christ. But that was really the first "hi-I-just-met-you-a-few-days-ago-and-here-I-am-giving-you-the-whole-shpiel" moment I've had in recent memory. I try to stay away from those, as my experience with them has been almost entirely negative, provoking openly hostile reactions and walk-aways.

This seems much more effective, but I'm always grateful for the "hit-the-ground-running" kind of thing with acquaintances.

sara said...

great post and great opportunity....but I really cracked up at the term "J-word". If you made that up..very funny, if not...still funny :)

djrak said...

great stuff Peter, i can so relate to it. God bless!

PS: cracked up on (how rude is that!)

djrak said...

i mean "how's that for rude"