2:00 a.m. @ Mars Hill

Tim Brister —  October 5, 2007 — 20 Comments

[A snapshot of life outside P&P]

Scene: While training a new hire at UPS this morning . . .

Anne: So you being a missionary and all, do you try to persuade people to believe in Christianity?

Timmy: Absolutely. I would love to persuade you to believe in Jesus.

Anne: You mean that people actually are persuaded and believe?

Timmy: That’s correct. There’s a guy down there who is a supervisor on _________ belt. I encourage you to go ask him about Jesus and when He changed his life. There are others as well. Can I tell you their stories?

Chad: So you are a Roman Catholic I hear?

Timmy: Not exactly. I am a Christian, meaning that I have trusted in Jesus as my Savior and Lord. Do you profess a faith Chad?

Chad: No. Well, I was raised Roman Catholic, but I don’t believe in any of it anymore. I mean, I believe in God, that he created us, but that’s it.

Timmy: So would would you consider yourself an agnostic, atheist, or deist?

Chad: I’m not sure really.

Timmy: Just curious, but how do you know that God exists, and that he has created life? In other words, how do you know what God is like?

Chad: Well, I just know it to be true, kind of like I know what is right from wrong.

Timmy: True. But why do you think we as human beings are given a conscience? Does that not make us moral beings?

Chad: I guess, but that does not mean that what is right for me has to be right for anyone else.

Timmy: But we all are moral beings, don’t you agree?

Chad: Yes.

Timmy: Then what grounds our morality is the fact that we were created in the image of God, who is moral. God says he is holy and righteous, and our conscience continually reveals to us that we are not holy and righteous. That’s why we feel guilty. We are living in moral rebellion against God. The Bible calls this sin.

Chad: But how do you know what God is like?

Timmy: Well, God has chosen to reveal to us what he is like. No one has the right to define or describe God except himself. Any other definition would be an idol because God cannot be subject to any other being in the world. And God has revealed Himself to all people outwardly in creation and inwardly in conscience. But he has also revealed Himself fully in Jesus Christ and the Scriptures which He has given us.

Chad: Well, I just cannot believe. Unless I see God for myself, I cannot believe.

Timmy: Chad, even if you could see, you still would not believe. Many saw Jesus in his day and lived in unbelief. You are living in sinful rebellion against God, and your heart is darkened to the truth about Jesus Christ.

Chad: I guess that’s true. But I don’t go to church because I don’t like it. It really bothers me.

Timmy: Of course you are going to be bothered. It is in the church you are told that you have a big problem that you cannot fix. You are bothered about it because you are under conviction, and you know as well as I that the truth hurts sometimes.

Timmy: Imagine with me that tomorrow you woke up feeling really sick, and you go to the doctor. He does some diagnostic tests and brings you the horrible news that you have cancer. I am sure that news would bother you, wouldn’t it?

Chad: Of course it would!

Timmy: Right. Then the doctor tells you that in order to deal with this problem of cancer, you are going to have to undergo immediate surgery to remove the cancer cells and undergo radiation and chemotherapy for the next six months. That would be an extremely painful experience. But if you didn’t do it, you wouldn’t be healed.

Chad: I agree, so what’s your point?

Timmy: My point is that you cannot see the cancer, yet you believe the diagnosis to be true. This is a matter of faith. On account of the doctor’s word, you act on the information he has told you about your sick condition and agree to undergo surgery in order to be healed. Chad, you have a much greater sickness, a sin sickness, that covers your entire nature–your mind, heart, and will. It is painful to the bad news. But in Jesus there is good news. God, through the sending of His Son Jesus to die on a cross provided a way for us to have a new nature and a new heart. Just like you have faith on account of the doctor’s word, you must likewise believe on account of God’s Word that you need Jesus who alone can do surgery in your heart and give you new life.

Chad: I see what you are saying. Makes sense. But are you telling me that I have to believe in Jesus, and if I don’t, I will go to hell?

Timmy: Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man can come to the Father except through Me.” Anyone who does not believe in Jesus will die and go to hell.

Chad: Anyone who says that is an asshole. That is crazy for someone to say that you must believe in “me” or else you are going to hell! That’s ridiculous!

Timmy: What you are calling an asshole statement I consider a very loving statement. Chad, you believe that 2+2=4, right?

Chad: Of course.

Timmy: So if you say that 2+2=5, and I tell you that you are wrong, does that make me an asshole? You see, there can be only one answer for 2+2. It is four. I know that sounds intolerant, but I would be lying to you if I said that it was anything else but four. In the same way, there is only one answer to the problem of sin. It is not in being a good person, faithful church attender, or devoutly religious. The only answer is believing in Jesus as the only one who can forgive you of your sin. There are no other answers; therefore it is truthful. There are no people who do not have this problem; therefore, to share with you the answer is most loving.

Chad: Oh, I guess I have never thought of it like that.

Timmy: Here’s another way to think of God’s love. Imagine you were a convicted criminal guilty of murder in the first degree. You know you are guilty. The evidence is everywhere. The verdict from the judge is the sentence of death. Yet before the judge sentences you, someone else steps in, completely innocent, and chooses to take the punishment for the crime you committed. As a substitute, he takes your place, and instead of death, you get life. If someone gives up their life to pay the punishment you deserve by dying the death you are supposed to die, is this act of sacrifice the most loving expression you could ever know?

Chad: (pausing without a response)

Timmy: You see, Chad, this is what Jesus did for sinners. We are guilty before God. We have offended him with our sin, and what we all deserve is death. Yet Jesus did for us what we could never do for ourselves by dying on the cross for our sin so that we may have life. In the presence of such necessary justice, there is unfathomable love directed towards us who are guilty. This is the love God wants you to know and experience.

Chad: (again pausing and musing) Uh, I think it is time for me to go on break . . .

Father of mercies, would you open Chad’s heart like you did Lydia’s? You who let light shine in darkness can cause the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ to shine in his heart that he might believe in you. The god of this world has blinded Chad from believing, and the world’s vain philosophies have taken his mind captive. I pray that the cross no longer be foolishness to him, but that he would be called to You by Your Spirit to know its power. Help me to take every thought captive and bring it to obey Christ, demolishing every stronghold set up against the knowledge of Him. I am so insufficient for these things, but I do pray that you make me the fragrance of Christ to spread the knowledge of Him everywhere, to those perishing as well as to those who are being saved. My desire is to make much of Jesus, and in doing so help coworkers like Chad to be happy in Him. Do it, O Lord I pray, for your name’s sake. Amen.

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  • So what you’re telling me is that my new printer, no doubt being shipped UPS, may be a bit slow in making it through your hub . . .

    Seriously, that’s great. I pray for Chad, too.

  • Praise Jesus, Timmy. I will be praying that you continue to be a light for the gospel of Christ on your own Mars Hill. Imagine what the UPS would look like with your branch completely trusting in the Gospel. Imagine what the new hires would experience when they walked into that place. It can happen, and I am glad you are being a tool to cause it through the gospel.

  • This post represents what I believe to be one of the greatest possible uses of the blogosphere by Christians. In recounting evangelistic opportunities as you have, Christians can give each other ideas on how to faithfully proclaim the Gospel in ordinary conversations and can elicit prayers from other Christians on behalf of those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed.

    re: “Uh, I think it is time for me to go on break”
    I’ve noticed that when I’m speaking to someone about the Good News of Jesus Christ, the conversation can go on for a long time, but when it starts to get personal, in the since of beginning to press someone for a response to what has been discussed, this often happens- namely, some kind of sinful self-preservation kicks in and they find some excuse to leave. Any ideas on how we are to deal with this as witnesses?

  • Thank you for sharing this, Timmy. It is not only exalting of Jesus and His gospel, but it is an encouragement to me in my walk. Praise God for His mercy and grace…

  • Wonderful!

    This reminds me of when I shared the Gospel with my Buddhist co-worker at my former employer.


  • Great raw post. I’ll be praying for you, Chad and your conversations with him.

  • Thanks guys. I never thought that posting something like this would be all that big of a deal. But I am glad that it was encouraging to you all. Maybe I need to do this more often. At least it may remind us that we have a life outside the blogworld. 😉

    When I was writing this, I was reminded of Ichabod Spencer’s books A Pastor’s Sketches which was really helpful for me. So I guess this would be something like a seminary student/missionary sketch I guess.

  • Jim Pemberton

    I love to read evangelical conversations between my fellow Christians of a Reformed theological persuasion and those who have not yet realized salvation. False claims that Calvinists cannot honestly evangelize are frustrating and accounts of the truth of the matter are refreshing.

  • Dude, you made me cry. This was such a refreshing change from what I normally deal with while training. Makes me wish these kinds of conversations were more frequent instead of dealing with people who simply don’t want to work.

  • Stephen,

    I didn’t add the postscript when Chad left for break. The new hire I was training softly asked, “So have you converted him yet?”

    I replied, “No. But God is working, and with that I am hopeful.”

    It was a good night.

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  • Timmy,

    God is certainly speaking through and into lives at work. A co-worker on the ramp has recently come to new life in part from conversations like the one you also are having. And other conversations continue.

    I would like to hope that really everyone could reference some ongoing friendship or conversation that flows back and forth by the direction of the Spirit.

    Just thinking about many of the other topics you’ve been dealing with on your blog…without being reductionistic…isn’t it possible that being the “local” church and/or being missional is wrapped up in just opening our mouths and speaking and being (I hate to use an overused term) authentic human beings, honest, vulnerable and hospitable…and willing to be laughed at or caricatured or sentimentalized or whatever…because we really do love God and love people.

    You mentioned in your missional post, “I am happy to call them my coworkers and my friends”…I think that is it…and our being their friend is that we are absolutely honest and clear in our intention to love them for Christ’s sake.

    Anyway, I enjoyed reading this.

    grace and peace,


  • Kelly,

    Great to hear from you brother! Yes, I agree with your statements. Praise God for the conversion of your co-worker. One of the things about you guys on the ramp is that you have so much more free time to talk which makes loaders like me jealous! We need to get together sometime for breakfast or something. I appreciate you reading my stuff, and have a blessed week.

  • If you are so jealous, perhaps you should try transferring out to the ramp. Seriously, you’d have conversations that never ended and never had to.

    I am so thankful to the Lord for the wide open spaces of conversation I am able to take advantage of.

  • I’ll try stopping by and chatting tonight.

  • Kelly,

    You are tempting me! I look forward to seeing you tonight. Peace.

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  • That is awesome, thanks for sharing this. How is Chad doing now? Has he been born-again?