I have been involved in a lot of things over the years as a pastor and the church I head up is not what we would call conventional. We meet each Sunday in a coffee shop with strangers coming and going, sometimes stopping in for a listen. The project of the coffee shop slash pizza parlor is a strange one but I get to meet some very interesting characters; characters who would never dream of stepping inside a church and who only know the name of Jesus as a curse word. Very few would imagine themselves being served coffee, pizza, sandwiches or ice cream by a pastor. I love it.
Most of these characters lead a tragic life (not in their eyes), so far removed from the truth of life that it astounds me. One gentleman I speak with every morning is visiting from out of the country. We touched on the subject of friendship yesterday. This man, who is close to eighty years of age (looks more like 60) confessed to me that he has no friends. He is a retired self-made business man who doesn't believe in God, or so he says. He has had sexual relationships with hundreds of women but says he has no friends and he sits there jealous of my large family and all the friends I have. I told him the difference is Jesus.
What is crazy for me is that this dear soul believes in re-incarnation but refuses to believe in a Father who loves him enough to pursue him. The difficulty, the wall that has been built up, is one of independence. This man, and many like him, do not want to be accountable to anyone. They want no one to take credit for their life or to hold them accountable for what they do with it, yet so many of them end up empty with a worthless life, no purpose, no reason, no love, no friends.
As this gentleman and I talked I shared my testimony and spoke of the many things God had brought me through. He was amazed to discover how much we had in common except for the foundation on which my life was built upon. He kept repeating that I had accomplished so much because I had confidence in myself and I kept correcting him, that my confidence was in Jesus and the promises he gave me. I told him I had done all that was done by the strength I have in Jesus. He struggled with the concept that I would rely on anything but myself. It was like we were worlds apart and I was speaking a foreign language.
Here was a man, well along in years, still searching for meaning, purpose, friendship and love, looking at me who possessed all that he desired. He had a long history of short-lived empty sexual relationships that now tasted sour to him. He could see in me what he wanted but he refused to accept how I possessed it. My heart breaks for him and I pray fervently that the Spirit will penetrate his heart with a revelation of the truth. There is still hope; he loves my coffee and is around for a few more weeks for more conversation and testimony.
So many of us look to the world and are jealous of everything that others possess yet we possess the greatest treasures. Jesus spoke the truth into our lives when he warned us:
What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself or waste your life? (Luke 9:25)
Don't do it! Don't chase after this world with all of it's false notions of treasure, worth and importance. Don't waste or throw away this precious life you have been given. There is nothing like the friendship we have with Jesus, the oneness with our King and the outpouring of our Father's love. We are already possessed by all that is important and we are given the opportunity to seed that into others. Seeding is what we do best. May it be joy, love, hope for a people who are searching in all the wrong places. May the Spirit use us mightily today to convey the hope of Jesus Christ to those who are desperate for him.