“Lord, please give me an opportunity to share with Barry,” I prayed as I walked up to my son’s ball game.
I didn’t really want God to answer my prayer. I wasn’t in the mood to talk to anyone, and it was so hot I decided to sit in the visitors stands, in the shade. If I was really being honest, I should have prayed: “Lord, I don’t want to be uncomfortable. Can you please just get someone else to talk to Barry, bring him to my air-conditioned church on Sunday, and I’ll seal the deal during the invitation?”
If you are interested in personal comfort, you probably don’t want to engage in the Great Commission. In fact, you may want to stop calling yourself a Christian. Jesus is constantly laying His comfort aside to restore others to Himself and voluntarily giving Himself up to be crucified on a cross. So when He said, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it,” He crucified the fantasy that personal security would be granted to those who followed Him.
Unfortunately, Jesus answered my prayer and made me uncomfortable. Barry obviously didn’t want to talk to anyone either, and he was sitting in the visitors stands. We sat and made small talk, and then he got up and moved to the home stands, directly in the sun. The Lord got my attention, so I relocated with him.
I asked him where he was from, and he said he was from a small town where there were three churches and six bars. I then crossed the line of comfort and asked, “So which one of those did you go to?”
He stood up, threw his drink on me, and yelled as everyone looked at us, “Why are you judging me?”
Wait. That’s not what he said. That is what I had imagined he would say. He was actually very open about his time in church, his baptism and his absence from church the past 20 years. I listened to him, talked to him about my beliefs, and invited his family to church. The conversation was engaging and comforting.
We talk ourselves out of gospel conversations every day, conversations that others are more than willing to have. It’s almost as if Satan stretches out a wet paper towel and says, “You better not try to push through this. It will break your hand.” We are naïve enough to believe him rather than pushing through the perceived discomfort and risking our personal security.
I’m sure there will be other days when I talk my way out of starting a gospel conversation. For Barry’s sake, and mine, I’m glad Jesus urged me to start this one.
(Names have been changed in order to protect the privacy of individuals.)