“Philip found Nathanael, and said to him, ‘We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’ Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.'” (John 1:45-46)
About a month ago, I met a man while at a McDonald’s restaurant. The man, in fact, was an employee (washing the floor). But how was I to know that, in reality, behind the “McDonald’s” guise, was a student studying the same profession as I was in … that of electrical engineering? I didn’t know that at the time, but we did seem to “connect”, and it was all too easy for me to share my faith with him.
In fact, so strong was the urge to share with this man, that even after having shared with him, and after having walked to the car with my two kids, I knew that there was still some “unfinished business” to take care of. Had he not told me himself that he would come to church the following week? Well, then, how come I had not gotten his telephone number and offered to pick him up on that same day, so I could take him along with me?
With this in mind, I headed back (with my two kids, of course, because mom was at home) and proceeded to find him again. “Jesus wants us to do something else,” I explained to my two kids. They were used to this type of stuff. Jesus was in charge. They were happy to do whatever Jesus wanted us to do. (And that is the way it always is in our family.)
As soon as I found him — with my heart intent on getting his phone number — I opened my mouth, and was just beginning to formulate my sentence, when he interjected, “Ah, yes, my telephone number. It is such-and-such.” He seemed to know instinctively what I had “come back” for. I was impressed. A week later, the man came to church with me. As I dropped him off at his home that day, he made these remarks: “This is the best day I’ve had in the last six months since I came to Canada” (for the man is not from Canada).
Bingo. A fire had been ignited. Something was happening. Our “random chance” encounter at McDonald’s was proving to be more that “just that.” It was proving to be a real “God-incidence,” as they say (to contrast that with seeming “co-incidences,” which seem to leave God completely out of the picture, and give him no credit at all, this being a dishonor to God, who is the author of “all good things,” including every “chance blessing” that ever happened to anyone). No, but far from it, it was my heart’s desire to see God work like this, and I gave him (and give him) full credit for “putting this little masterpiece together,” which he clearly did, and is still doing.
Now the story is not over, for all of this occured about 4 weeks ago — and tonight (Sunday night, as this is being written) was this man’s fourth time coming to church with me, to “experience God” and meet new friends. You see, he’s serious about this stuff — he’s serious about finding out about Canadian culture, which is, admittedly, his first “outward motive” for coming to church with me.
Ah … outward motives, yes, but I can see God working in his life, week by week, as he faithfully attends. And especially when we linger, he’s even MORE surrounded by Christians, because it is the one’s who are FILLED with God’s Spirit that, by-and-large are the ones that linger! (The others leave quickly, with no real sense that fellowship is necessary or important to their well-being — either that, or they have kids, which is another story!)
But seriously, he was beaming tonight, and thanked me (again): “These people are really nice people,” he said to me. “I’m really glad you’ve taken me there.” Which all goes to show, that, if you want to impress someone in the west, a restaurant, or a store, or a shopping mall, or a plaza, or one’s own home even, is “just possibly” not the best place to do it in. No, but rather, I would gather that by his own comments, a good church where a person can meet with real Christians and hear good Bible-filled, Spirit-filled, love-filled, sermons, is!
Which all, I guess, leads me to the following short yet significant challenge: How much are we really doing to invite people to come to church with us? No matter what their motivation, to “get them inside” is one sure key to “facilitating” the work of God in their lives. For even a simple exposure to other Christians with whom they can “rub shoulders” can have profound effects, as I myself have seen in this man. Yes, truly, God is at work.
Be encouraged today, and be challenged, too, to do likewise. You, and someone else, will be eternally blessed because of it. I confess, I am learning myself, and eagerly desire to keep this “good ball rolling.” Roll on, Lord. Roll on. Please, for your Name’s sake. Amen.