Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Recently, as we drove into our driveway, I noticed a couple who was doing a pretty good job mowing our neighbor’s lawn. Since ours needed cutting too, I walked over to ask the man if he could do ours and what he charged. He said he could but that he was booked for the next two days and would do it after that. His price was very reasonable so I asked him for his phone number and name for future reference. After he gave me his phone number, I said, “and the name?” I heard him say Johnny Okani, and as I looked him over I thought to myself, “Well, he does look like he could be Hawaian or Polynesian, though he’s a little bit too slender” so I said, “I’m sorry, can you please spell your name for me?” He answered, “J-O-H-N-N-Y” and pointing to his wife he said in Spanish “o (or) C-O-N-N-I-E.” Because I was not expecting him to reply in Spanish, I only heard “Johnny Okani.” What he was really saying in Spanish was that when I called, I could ask for Johnny or Connie.
I don’t think I will soon forget that encounter. Nevertheless, it will always remind me of the need to be as clear as I can when someone asks me a question in the future. We also need to keep in mind the person who is asking the question so that we answer accordingly. I am reminded of several occasions when Jesus’ words were misunderstood by His Disciples. Here is but one of them, found in the 11th Chapter of John: They knew Lazarus had been sick but were not aware that he had died so when Jesus told them “our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to wake him up”, they thought He meant a natural sleep so they replied, “Good, if he sleeps he will get better.” Jesus had to turn to them and tell them point blank, “Lazarus is dead!”
The same holds true when we’re sharing what we know about the gospel. Regardless of our level of understanding, we have to keep it simple. For example if someone asks us “How can I be saved?” (They may phrase it differently and ask about going to Heaven or being forgiven but the answer to them should be simple nonetheless.) There are some churches that, for whatever reason, will add things such as “You have to give up smoking, drinking, and cussing, get yourself a Bible, start coming to our church, take classes, start giving your tithes, the list sometimes goes on and on. Keep in mind that these are all good things in themselves, but that would not be the correct answer. The Bible really makes it as easy as ABC (A: admit you’re a sinner, B: Believe that Jesus died for your sins, C: Confess it with your lips.” Too simple? When the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas “Sirs, what must I do to be saved” they replied, “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you and your family will be saved.” (See Acts 16:30-31) Therefore, keep it simple. BTW, wouldn’t it be something if there really is a Johnny Okani somewhere?
Memory Verse for the week: (John 15:9) “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”