Far from the Bible belt of my valley, I have found myself in a culture where people are raw and open about their sin, but still not willing to turn away from it. Standing on corners smoking marijuana and stumbling through the streets with a can of beer… They are lost. That’s when I met Jeff. He is a Vietnam vet living on the streets drinking his life away. It would have been easy to ignore him and turn away—after all my husband and I are on a trip celebrating our anniversary not on a mission trip—but how can I ignore the call to proclaim the gospel just because it was inconvenient?
Within a minute of beginning our conversation, he was quoting scripture (much better than I ever could), but then I asked, “What does any of that really mean? What good is head knowledge if it doesn’t affect the way you live your life?” He finally stopped talking and took a breath. He listened as we shared the gospel, and we encouraged him to get plugged into a church. I would love to say he repented from his life of sin and asked to be baptized, but he loved his sin more.
I realized in that moment of witnessing that we truly are all the same in this human experience. All the people pouring down these streets in San Francisco are in need of the exact same thing as those living smugly in our valley. We all need restoration through Christ to God.
This universal need transcends all borders and isn’t just the focus in witnessing to non- believers, but in living as a believer. Jeff was taken aback by our conversation because he had never thought about the fact that if you truly believe something, then it should permeate every decision you make and be evident in the way that you live. If we are honest with ourselves, we don’t truly hold to that either. Our disbelief is found in our compromises. We tell a white lie to our child because it’s too much work to deal with a meltdown; we use a restroom that is for “customers only” fully knowing we are not buying anything; we watch rated-R movies with intense sex scenes while publicly denouncing pornography; we listen to music filled with explicit lyrics—we compromise.
On the surface we look much godlier than those walking the streets of San Francisco, but if we accurately view our hearts, then we will know any good at all in us is because of the work Christ is doing in our lives. We are sinful and selfish at best. We all turned away from God and chose a life of sin, but Jesus lived a perfect life for us and died in our place. He took all my sin upon His shoulders and paid for me with HIS blood. He proved His ability to conquer death by raising Himself from the dead and then The Holy Spirit opened my eyes to this truth. Nothing was of me, but only came by God’s will. In the exact same way, the walking dead on the streets around me can only come to life by God’s grace and His faithfulness to put evangelism on the hearts of His people. A sign reading, “You are going to Hell” isn’t going to do the trick (neither will a Facebook post). It’s got to be Christians living out the gospel and pointing them to Christ. It’s “carpe diem”- seizing the day not for ourselves but for the glory of God. It’s seizing the day for Him, because of what He’s done for me and praying He will do that work in the lives of those I pass.
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” – 1 Corinthians 6:9-11