I had an interesting conversation with a guy while riding in a car recently. To protect the innocent, the names have been changed… Adam and I were talking and I thought I should use what was sure to be a 30min ride to encourage him in his faith. He grew up in a Christian family, but I figured as all 20 somethings do, he could use some encouragement in the faith. After a bit of small talk, and hearing that he hadn’t been to church in a long time, I said remember what the book of Hebrews says, “do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together…”. Then he said, “yeah I don’t really believe in any of that religion stuff anymore”.

After a pause where I was trying not to be shocked, I decided to press on. “Really, tell me about that,” I said. He gave some pretty weak pop-culture ideas about religion leading to wars and using the concept of the afterlife as a way to trick people, and gain money and influence.

I spent a few minutes saying things like “Well, I’m certain there are religious people who do those things, but that is not the nature of the christian fellowships the Bible describes.” Then I’d give a few bits of information to back up my argument. When I could tell we had reached a level where we were starting to generate heat instead of light, I backed off and changed the subject. He knows I’m a minister, and knows what I believe. I just tried to use the conversation to show him that his “reasons” for not believing in the afterlife, etc., were weak and that some of his criticisms of “the church” were correct, but that people like me hoped to change that perception. I thought it was over there, and I was a bit disappointed.

Then later, another guy who was in the car (who is much younger, and young in the faith) said, “man you really spanked him in that argument!”. I said, “really?” He kinda made it sound like the conversation, which I considered a failure, had been a real encouragement to him. I hadn’t even thought about it from that perspective. So, the events of that day confirmed in me through experience that God works in mysterious ways. When I was completely caught off-gaurd and thought I did a poor job in “giving a reason for the hope that I have”, God used that to encourage someone’s faith.

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