Ministry Musings: Making Christ Known (2)

Today, I want to tell you about Denny.  He picked me up at the airport, with the assignment to take me to a meeting his parents were in charge of.  He was a student at The University of Michigan, and he wasted no time in telling me that he was not “into the Christian thing.”

He went on to tell me all of the other world views and belief systems that his university experience was exposing him to.  It was an impressive list, and he was clearly a serious explorer of life.   Like everyone his age, he wanted to “really live,” and make a difference in the world.

I let him run the list of his exploration, and then I asked him, “In making this search have you read the Gospels?”  He responded that he had not.  I then asked, “Don’t you think, just to be fair, that you should give Jesus a chance before you dismiss him?  Doesn’t it seem odd to dismiss someone you’ve never even read about?”

He agreed that it wasn’t fair, and Denny’s intellectualism was based on the value of fairness.  So, I asked him to read the four gospels.  I was going to return in a few months to meet with the same group again.  He agreed to have completed the reading before he picked me up the next time.

When that time came, as I got into the car, I could tell an immediate difference in Denny.  And as before, he got right to the point—telling me that he had read the gospels and that Jesus had come alive to him.  He was a new believer “on the Way.”

Given last week’s posting about conversational evangelism, I thought I’d give you a real example of how it happened once upon a time.  I did not use the exact questions that I noted last week, but you can see the parallels.

I think that, in the final analysis, making Christ known is really about being an agent to create “sacred space” where Christ can work.  Denny was fair—and open.  The “space” was the time it took for him to read the four gospels.  It was my way of asking, “Are you willing to allow Christ to help you with this?”—in Denny’s case, his quest for life.

Denny was willing—and so was Jesus.  Not a bad combination.

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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