“Are you a God fearing man, I asked?”
“Well I know God in my own way… I don’t attend church and I’ve never been baptized.”
“The thief on the cross was never baptized, but Jesus told him he would be with Him in paradise today, have you ever heard that story?”
“No, I haven’t”
“Have you ever considered why Jesus came to this earth?”
“Do you have a few minutes? I’d like to tell you about that.”
“Is your name James, I thought I heard you say that?”
“Yes, it is.”
This is how my conversation began yesterday afternoon with a man named James. I was outside working in my yard and James was cruising around the neighborhood looking for scrap. That’s become a big thing recently and there is rarely a time when I put something on the curb and it’s not picked up before the city gets to it.
I’m grateful for the service these men perform. They scrap out the metal and earn some money, I get rid of some of the useless “treasures” I’ve accumulated over time and the city saves time and effort by not having to pick up as much as they normally would. It seems to be a win for everyone. I’ve also observed most of these “scrappers” are friendly when they drive by. They smile, they wave and they usually greet you. I suppose that’s part of their customer service strategy.
When James drove past the first time I noticed he seemed to have a warm and friendly face and as he circled my cul-de-sac and came back through I decided I had some scrap I was going to give him. It had been sitting in my garage for months with big plans for me to strip the wire and cash in a big check. Suddenly I felt something come over me that just said James needed it more than I did.
So I waved him down and he readily jumped out of his truck and greeted me. I said “I have something for you.” When I brought out a box of copper wire his eyes lit up and he proceeded to thank me and was eager to get it into his truck.
As he said God bless you, I asked him if he was a God fearing man and so our conversation began.
James told me quite a bit about his life and he had some interesting stories of changes that many might believe a good sign of a changed man. James had been a drunk and a drug user. He had really cleaned up his life and that’s a good thing for the here and now. This will certainly make James’ life better. But does this mean James is a new creation? (2 Corinthians 5:17) Does he have a new heart? (Ezekiel 36:26) Does he practice righteousness? This is the key to whether James has truly been converted.
1 John 2:29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.
I asked James if he has a bible and if he read it regularly?
“No, it’s very hard to understand.”
“Yes, I understand…” God’s Word tells us that it is spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)
James needed to hear the gospel. He needed to understand that his sin and my sin put Christ on the cross. And his sin will be paid for one of two ways. God poured out His wrath on the Son for James or James will take that wrath for all of eternity in hell.
Think about that for just a moment. Ten thousand times ten thousand times ten thousand years is only the beginning of eternity. The torment will never end. Never!
Much more than a hundred bucks of scrap this is the message James needed to hear. In a fifteen minute conversation James heard that God is love. God’s love was manifested through the cross but that love is only available to those that turn to Christ in faith and then live radically different lives.
I’m hopeful James will begin to see his sin. I gave him a gospel message that challenged his thinking and asked him to read his bible, starting in the New Testament with the book of John. Then he can read how Jesus requires us to be born again and I’m hopeful he will understand why God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. (John 3:16)
I hope James will labor for the food that never perishes; this is far more valuable than anything he could find on the curb.
John 6:27 “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”