Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sharing the Gospel In The Everyday – A Narrative Exemplar - Part 3

That was a great way to handle opposition (Atheist) to the Bible Studies, and it probably provides for greater opportunity of sharing the gospel, that wouldn't be there had Nigel demanded his rights. Now lets see what Nigel does as he remembers God is making an appeal through Nigel, in Part 3:
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“Hey, Nigel! I could really go for some of those great Tacos at Tres Hombres right about now. Wanna join me?” Nigel had been walking back to his office deep in thought about the conversation with Larry that had just taken place. He heard Sam’s greeting and glanced at his watch and couldn’t believe that it was lunchtime. The conversation with Larry had lasted longer than he’d anticipated but he couldn’t complain: he was just amazed and grateful that it had happened at all. He was hungry he realized, and he looked up to give Sam a grin.
“You bet, Sam!” Nigel really enjoyed Sam’s company, and he’d been working on building a relationship with him for the past year. Sam was several years younger than he was and had a likeable and easygoing personality. Sam loved his dogs and was a big movie buff, and there always seemed to be easy and natural conversation between the two men about these and other things. Nigel hadn’t really broached the subject of faith with Sam yet. He knew that Sam knew he was a Christian, and he’d really wanted to make sure that he didn’t look like he was only interested in being his friend if he could convert the younger man. He genuinely enjoyed Sam’s company.
“Lord, would you use me again today? Would you open a door with Sam and give me an opportunity to present your truth to him, and would you help me to be wise so I see that opportunity?” Nigel prayed, as they headed for the nearby restaurant that was a favorite for both of them. Nigel had been praying for Sam’s salvation for about a year but today it seemed that he was especially aware, with gratitude, of the many opportunities being placed before him. God did provide just the right circumstances, and Nigel knew that it was God who would ultimately draw people like Larry and Sam to Himself in His timing, yet today, that verse from II Corinthians kept running through his head: God, making his appeal through us…
As they settled into a booth and ordered drinks, their conversation flowed easily. Nigel talked about his kids and soccer, and Sam related the latest escapades of his two dogs and had Nigel howling in laughter by the time their drink orders came.
“So, what good movies have you seen lately, Sam?” Nigel asked, knowing this was a favorite topic of conversation for his friend.
Sam’s eyes lit up as he gave Nigel an animated account of how he’d just re-watched the whole Matrix Trilogy that past weekend. “I just can’t seem to get enough of them no matter how many times I see them,” Sam said, enthusiastically.
“Yeah, me too, Sam. Mary and I love to watch those,” said Nigel. At the sudden quizzical look on Sam’s face, Nigel added, “You look surprised!”
“Well, I…” Sam looked a little flustered. “It’s just that, well, you’re a Christian and all, I’ve heard and, you know, those movies being rated R, somehow I just thought that…” his voice tapered off.
Nigel scrambled to answer quickly, not wanting Sam to feel embarrassed by his assumption. “Well, there might be some scenes in those movies that I don’t agree should be there, just like I don’t always agree with every page in a book I read. But I don’t think a Christian needs to hide from culture. There are actually a lot of good things in those movies. For example, why do you think you like them so much?”
Sam thought for a moment, and then replied that he loved the action scenes. “And, there’s something else about them too… It’s like, like, maybe they just make me think about life in a different way.”
Nigel thought the Holy Spirit might be providing that opening he’d asked for, and was amazed again at the way God was putting opportunities before him that day. His amazement continued as Sam went on with his observations.
“In fact,” Sam was saying, “They make me think about death, too, and questions like ‘What happens when we die?’ I think they kind of make me feel like there’s a real community here with the human race, and at the same time wonder what it’s all about. It’s funny really,” he continued, “I never noticed until now that part of the reason I really like them is because they make me think about stuff I don’t know the answer to. That’s a weird reason to like something, huh?” he said with a chuckle.
Nigel grinned back at him and took the plunge. “Well, Sam, it sounds to me like maybe you’re asking the questions that we were all meant to ask. I mean, maybe you’re being drawn to ask those questions and in a way, drawn to see that you have a need for a relationship that will make this all make sense. I believe that God created us to have a relationship with Him and that He’ll use whatever he wants to get us to the point of seeing that need.”
“So you think ‘God’ is talking to me through the Matrix movie?” Sam’s voice wasn’t mocking, just mildly teasing.
“Not quite the way you’re saying, maybe,” said Nigel, with another grin. “But I do think that all truth is God’s truth, and that when a movie like the Matrix causes you to ask the right questions, that’s certainly within God’s control.”
“Ok. So why The Matrix movies? Why can’t When Harry Met Sally get me to wonder about the deeper truths of life?” said Sam.
Nigel took a sip of his Coke, and thought about Sam’s question.
“Well, for starters, there seem to be lots of parallels between the plot and characters of the movie, and the ‘plot’ of God’s plan for saving His people. Whether that was intentional on the part of the film maker or not, I think there’s something in us that resonates with the parts of the story that mirror a bit of God’s truth,” said Nigel.
“Like?” asked Sam
“Like the fact that Neo is a ‘Savior’ in the story. He’s called “the one”, and he’s the only one who has the ability to free humans from the Matrix. His arrival and purpose has been prophesied, and in order to set people free he ultimately sacrifices himself for all of humanity. It’s a great story, but maybe you’re so drawn to it because it mirrors, in some small, imperfect way, the greatest real story there is.” Nigel studied Sam’s face, and seeing he was listening, went on.
“That great real story is that humanity really is in trouble, because of our sin. Our sin separates us from the God who created us for perfection and glory. But the problem is that our sin also prevents us from doing anything to save ourselves. We’re like those bodies that live their whole life blindly in the Matrix – we’re essentially trapped – dead, in fact, in terms of being able to get ourselves out of this mess.”
“That’s pretty depressing,” said Sam. “And you’re usually a positive guy!”
Nigel chuckled. “If that were the end of the story, it would be more than depressing. Since we can’t help ourselves, we need someone from the outside to do it for us and, the ‘non-depressing’ end of the story is that that person has been provided for us. God gave his own Son to save us: to sacrifice His life in place of ours, and to give us the good standing with God that we’d never be able to give ourselves. He’s ‘The One’ that maybe your questions from the Matrix are leading you toward. I hope so. And I’d love to tell you more about Him if you keep having those questions, which I’m guessing you will.”
Sam was playing with the wrapper from his straw, flicking it back and forth and staring into his glass. Nigel wasn’t sure what to make of the expression on his face and decided to wait. “God, I praise you for the opportunity to speak about you. But help me to be wise here with Sam. Help me to have the right words as we end our lunch. Help me to show him Christ as the answer to his questions and the source of his life.”
“Hey, Sam,” said Nigel, “I just thought of one more thing from those movies. Remember at the end of the last movie when the Oracle is speaking to the little Indian girl, and she tells her that all you have to do is believe?”
“Yes, that’s where the Sun comes up and she says that that’s something new in the Matrix, right?” asked Sam.
“Yeah, that’s right, ” Nigel smiled at him and went on. “I was thinking last time I saw that movie about how that’s the essence of Christianity. It’s believing in “the One”, Jesus. It’s faith in Christ that saves us from eternal separation from God. He’s that savior that God might be using Neo, partly, to get you to wonder about.”
“Ok, Nigel.” Sam nodded. “You’ve got me thinking. Hey - is this the type of stuff you guys talked about in that bible group that Larry made such a stink about back at the office? Do you Christians sit around talking about movies like the Matrix?”
Nigel laughed. “I can’t say movies never come up, but you know, really, all we were doing those mornings was trying to learn more about the ONE who really saved us… Not Neo, of course, but Christ. A movie might get you thinking, but God’s provided the whole story – the real thing – in the Bible.”
Nigel and Sam were silent for a while then, as they munched on the last of the chips and salsa and waited for their check. On the way back to the office, Sam was pretty quiet until, just about the time they pulled into the parking lot, he asked,
“So, how do you know the Bible is true? Even if it was true once, hasn’t it been tampered with through the years? How can you really trust it?”
Nigel laughed and clapped Sam on the shoulder. “I see God’s just going to keep at you Sam. Those are good questions. I don’t think you’re going to find the answers in The Matrix, so how about if we have lunch again soon and keep talking?”
As Sam walked away, Nigel paused to pray, “Father, thank you for your Word. Thank you for Christ, the One. Please continue to draw Sam to you. Amen”
A few minutes later, settling back into the pile of work at his desk, he thought again: God making his appeal through us… “Wow!” he said out loud, then picked up the report on the top of the pile, and breathed out a long, amazed sigh.
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To be continued...>>>

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