“I’ve never seen so many people at a train stop all on the cell phone . . . what were they doing, calling each other???” Ah, the corny joke. I relish in corny jokes. I could tell corny jokes with my father-in-law all night. I’ve always thought that my jokes were dumb. But now I know that they’re a different kind of dumb. They’re corny. And that little corny joke about the cell phones was how I struck up a conversation with a lady on the train back from Philly (the most depressing place on earth!).
It’s funny how it all happened. I had just finished up McLaren’s book, The Last Word and the Word After That, and was truly blessed. I found myself praying very intimate prayers all day and really connecting with the Father, Son, and Spirit. Whether or not you agree with McLaren’s view on hell (that looks a “hell” of lot like C. S. Lewis’), you cannot help but notice that his book pulls the reader closer to God, and that’s good enough for me.
In any case, the other books in my bag didn’t carry the same draw, so I struck up a conversation, hoping to talk about God with her, but not wanting to force it. We chatted about our spouses and their occupations.
And then it happened. I began to share a little bit of my story with her and she connected with it, saying that her sister (who is a struggling Catholic) is in a similar place. She had a lot of good, deep things to say about God. She wants God to change how she lives, and pointed to practice as the key end result (my, how very postmodern of her dare I say). Though she’s dissatisfied with Christianity at this point, she knows that she’s into something that she can’t and won’t get out of. The very same way that I describe my own union with Christ.
I recommended McLaren’s trilogy for her as a good place to start. She was enthusiastic about it and we parted after a short chat.
The interesting thing for me is that I consciously emboding what my little group of friends talked about the other night about sharing the Gospel, and it really worked.
– I didn’t try to convert her. I assumed treated her like she was already in relationship with God, knowing that I would push her closer to him if necessary.
– I let go of the conversation and let it go where God led it, only bringing up God where it really made sense and where I had freedom from him to share the most important part of my life with her.
I don’t want to say this is the new “way” to share the Gospel. But I think there’s something to the principles of intentionality, sensitivity to the Spirit, sensitivity to the person, and kinship (joining that person as a seeker after God, not acting like I have it figured out).