When my stepson went to orientation for a fairly liberal public university this year, there came a time when the group was asked, "Do any of you have any particular religious or spiritual interests?"
Boldly, he raised his hand, somewhat surprised to be the only one. He told them he was a Christian and was given information about Campus Crusade for Christ.
Joe came away from the experience thinking how amazing it was to have so many young people drifting about without any spiritual foundations.
In the crush to get his schedule worked out, Joe didn't have time in the first couple of weeks to touch base with Campus Crusade. But one day as he was walking to class, he came across an evangelist who was screaming a message of condemnation to every "sinner" who walked by.
Where, thought Joe, was the message of grace, of redemption, of Christ's love for the lost?
He broached the subject with the angry evangelist, only to be told that the only message worth conveying was to stop sinning.
"But everyone sins," ventured Joe.
"I do not sin," said the evangelist.
"Then you and Jesus are the only ones without sin," Joe observed.
"Not at all," said the evangelist. "Nobody in my church sins. No real Christian sins after being saved."
Joe pointed out that 1 John 1:8: "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us."
"Stop attacking me," the man rejoined, ending the debate.
Joe returned the next day, believing that somehow he must reach this angry evangelist. But perhaps God had other plans.
Each day, after the man of God had savaged the students, calling the girls whores and the boys fornicators, Joe was there to bandage the spirtually wounded. He was there to assure them that there is a Jesus who loves them and cares for them, who died so that they might have forgiveness of their sins.
Joe has emailed me about his progress. He has witnessed to Muslims, to atheists, even to well-intended Christians who were devastated by the attacks of the evangelist.
We joke that, between the mad evangelist and Joe, God has put together a kind of "good cop, bad cop" scenario that is reaching people who otherwise never would have been touched.
"Hmm," said Joe. "Maybe I can use that. I can go up to them and say, 'See that raving lunatic over there? If you don't accept Jesus right now, I'm going to have to turn you over to him!'"
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