Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
1 Peter 5:7 NLT
I met a man at breakfast this morning who mentioned that he was about to go home and read his Bible.
Excited to be sitting with him at the counter in our little neighborhood diner (and looking forward to some good conversation about The Word) — I asked what book of the Bible he was reading in currently. He said that he had already read through the New Testament four times this year. I thought that maybe he misheard me, so I asked again which book of the Bible he was currently reading.
He said that he had just started reading Revelation, so I mentioned that I really love the advice that is given to each of the seven churches — and he looked at me with a blank stare as if I was speaking a different language. But again, I wondered if maybe he just hasn’t heard me properly.
Then he said that he really loves the book of John, so I commented that is one of my favorite books too, because John speaks the gospel from the heart of things. He then replied that he “doesn’t like the parts where John was bragging”. So I asked if he meant the parts where John referred to himself as the disciple that Jesus loved. He confirmed that is what he meant and said “that was bragging because Jesus loved all the disciples equally and John shouldn’t think that He loved him and not the others”. I responded that it always seemed to me to be a reference from John not necessarily cutting down anyone else but simply genuinely praising God for how close and loved Jesus made him feel personally. I couldn’t really tell if he agreed or not on my perspective, but I was still excited to be talking about The Word with a fellow believer.
He then said that he really likes 1 Samuel, and I agreed that is such a good book also. I commented how I really loved how Samuel himself doesn’t show the huge character flaws that we see in most people in the Bible, and how he was consecrated from birth and served God very faithfully in the Biblical account (other than his children not following in his ways). I commented how I had lived the prodigal life until the gospel and the Lord’s mercy drew me back home to learn about things like salvation, sanctification, the work of the Holy Spirit, and God’s Kingdom. I mentioned how I’d rather my daughter live a wise life serving God more like Samuel’s example rather than having to learn everything the hard way before realizing that God’s way is best.
And at this point, the man’s attitude completely shifted and it was like he went on the attack.
He started asking me what my denomination was in a very confrontational way. I simply replied, “I am a Christian seeking to walk in The Way.” To which he pressed me again on what denomination I was. I replied that I love and have friends and pastor friends in many different denominations and care for them all equally. He pressed me again, and I tried to explain to him that our family church that we attend is part of the Southern Baptist Convention, but that I also enjoy sometimes visiting friends’ churches that are Pentacostal, Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc.
But he didn’t seem to be listening and directly accused me of “forsaking the assembly”. Mind you, this man didn’t know me from Adam and was doing this in the middle of a crowded restaurant. I explained that we attend church as a family regularly on Sundays and celebrate the Lord’s Day each Sunday, and that I also like to be mindful of the Sabbath, from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown and the role it plays in God’s Word. I mentioned that I thought that denominations sometimes get in the way and mentioned what the Bible says about pure and undefiled religion being to provide for orphans and widows and to not be polluted by the world. To which this man says, “Well, I wouldn’t know about that, I only believe and follow the Bible.”
It was such an odd interaction considering that I was excited thinking that I’d found a Christian brother who loves the Lord and The Word. And I ran through the conversation in my head over and over as we drove home — but eventually I had to let it go. A similar thing happened with someone on social media recently, so I want to learn from these things and understand how I might handle them better in the future.
However, like today’s verse tells us, these types of things we just have to sometimes hand over to God.
Lord, I don’t always understand. Help me to trust you. Help me to be in your will and to demonstrate your love and to have no part in this things you hate. Amen.