In the States we love to put things into nice, neat boxes. Liberals and Conservatives. High Class and Low Class. Black and White. Egalitarians and Complementarians. Calvinists and Arminians. Saved and Unsaved.
This past week, I’ve had to rethink my love for little boxes and comfortable categories.
On Tuesday, my roommate Jon and I met with two girls, Aliya and Dana, for lunch. As it naturally does for us, our conversation led to talking about Jesus. Here in Central Asia, a spirit of pluralism looms over most people, so I expected to have to maneuver through that minefield with them. But that wasn’t the case at all.
After a short conversation about loving our enemies (my tattoo leads to many Jesus-centric conversations), Aliya pointed to her heart and said that Jesus is inside her giving her guidance. Wow. We asked her some probing questions about that, and it got to the point where I asked them what their parents would say if they told them they wanted to follow Jesus. They both agreed: they would be against it. But—and this may not sound radical to you, but in Central Asia it is—they said it was their choice and their life.
Now, let me be clear. These girls know next to nothing about Jesus, but they want to know Him and they want to follow Him. They believe in Jesus, but don’t have very much knowledge yet to believe in.
Now, fast forward to last Thursday. Every week, we meet in the food court of a nearby mall and talk about the life of Jesus. At the end of our life group, my dear friend Alisher asked, “How do I share the Gospel? What does the Bible say? Is there a right way and a wrong way to do it?”
This is a non-believer, as far as I know, asking me how to tell other people about Jesus. He’s made no public proclamation of faith. I’ve certainly told him the Gospel dozens of times, but we’ve never gone through “the sinner’s prayer.” But nonetheless, there he is, wanting to know how to tell people about Jesus.
Taking a step back for a second, tell me, when did the Twelve “get saved?” Was it before Jesus sent them how to heal the sick and cast out demons? Because after that, it seems that they still didn’t understand who Jesus was, and they certainly didn’t understand that He was going to die and rise again. For crying out loud, they all abandoned Jesus when he was getting arrested!
So, what do we do with that?
I’ll tell you. We stop worrying about categories and keep our eyes on Jesus. He knows Aliya, Dana, and Alisher’s hearts, and He knows that I don’t and that I don’t need to. All He calls me to do is to continue to love them and share with them how much He loves them and wants them to know Him. And that’s what He’s calling us to back in the States as well. Not to tally souls saved at the church committee meeting, but to love people like Jesus loved them, even if they don’t fit into our nice, neat boxes.