This morning I drove to Abilene to make a stop at Office Depot to pick up a few supplies and have some posters printed for our new church library (more on the irony of this later). The gigantic printer that they use for poster-sized stuff is not fast, to say the least. It took over an hour and half to have four posters printed. That was a lot of standing around time.
But, thankfully, it was not wasted standing around time. After I made my rounds picking up a few supplies, I went back to the printing section to wait and make sure the posters were printing well. After a couple were done a lady who was shopping commented on how much she liked them. I wrote down for her where to find them (Tim Challies’ blog does a visual theology series you can find here). I thought to myself, “Hey, that was pretty cool.” But the coolness was just beginning.
The girl who was helping me print them seemed to have her attention actually called to the posters for the first time.
The first two posters that were finished were two of my favorites. Here they are:
When the girl (her name was Michelle, so you can pray for her) looked at the first poster, she called me over and asked, “Can I ask you something? This sounds really bad. Can you explain it?” What she thought sounded bad was Genesis 3:15. It’s the curse that God gives to the serpent, yet it includes the first appearance of the gospel promise. I then began to explain to her the first couple of chapters of Genesis, and then what the genealogy was all about. (I just realized I left my flash drive there. I’ll get over it.) I wanted to show her that the whole plan of all of history was pointing towards Jesus and the solution to this problem found in Genesis 3.
She stopped me for a second. She startled me by asking, “So, if you are a pastor, what do you think of all of this picking and choosing from religions and many different paths to God business?” I kind of chuckled and told her, “Well, as a simple answer, they’re wrong.” Using that infographic, I picked Islam and Judaism and showed where they historically veered from God’s plan of salvation (Islam relying on Ishmael instead of Isaac, and the Jews failing to see Jesus as the promised Messiah. She thought the idea of the Jews still waiting for their Messiah sad). I really trying to emphasize that I believed that “religion” wasn’t just a set of rules to follow, but Christianity was the explanation of all of existence and history. I told her that all other religions had as their base idea the fact that you are called to try to behave, to earn God’s love. I talked to her about how there were two ways to rebel against God’s plan for us. One was to obviously “act bad,” to morally rebel. But the other was to try and act good so that you would earn your own good standing before God.
Michelle then begins to inform me that she was raised Catholic. And here was the kicker for me: “I was raised Catholic and we never read the Bible much. I’ve never heard this stuff.” We sit right in the middle of a very reached area of our country. But we carry around this false assumption that people just get it. By “it,” I mean the gospel. But I told her that I wasn’t really surprised. I was raised in a Baptist church and don’t really feel like the redemptive history of God was taught to me in that way.
So, I pulled out the tabernacle poster. I proceeded to show her how the different elements of the sacrificial worship system of the Old Testament taught us things about God and His plan for salvation. I spent particular time talking about the holy of holies, how the people weren’t worthy to be in the presence of God because of their sin and how sacrifices were needed to atone or make amends for that. I stressed that people think Christianity is about what we have to do, but I showed her the point of the whole Old Testament is that we couldn’t do it. We needed a savior. We needed someone in our place. That someone was Jesus.
It was amazing to watch the wheels turning and her slowly getting some of these basic concepts. I wish there was an amazing “We got down on our knees in Office Depot” ending to the story. But, in God’s sovereignty, there wasn’t. My posters were done. I paid for my stuff. And the last thing she told me was this: “I don’t know why but this makes me feel (I can’t remember the word she used! either better, relaxed, or comforted, but you get the idea).” I smiled and told her I understood.
My personal most significant take-away from this encounter was to remember, even in the Bible belt, people’s general unawareness of the gospel. The know Bible stories. They know religious deeds. So very many people do not know the gospel. We need to tell them. It is the good news we get to herald to every tribe and nation, beginning with our own.
Secondly, look for any opportunity to do just that. On my commute to Abilene (about two hours there and back) I was listening to Drive By Discernment from Wretched Radio. I’ve never met Todd Friel but I bet I would love him. The particular part I was listening to was with Justin Peters, who I have met and think is one of the most godly people I’ve ever encountered. Anyway, Justin’s ministry reminds me of how much garbage is out there coming with the label “Christianity” that is not Christian at all. We need to be so diligent in sharing the good news, because along with all of the unreached peoples, there are a lot of people who have been reached but with false teachings.
Ok, finally, here’s the ironic thing: I forgot Tim sells these posters online!!! So, buy them directly from Tim here or be like me, pay more money, and go share the gospel at Office Depot. Maybe God wants me to go get my flash drive back and follow up with Michelle. Or maybe my part in Michelle’s life is over and God will send someone else to her. That is not our concern. Just be diligent in sharing the good news. That IS our concern.