I remember writing at a coffeehouse and striking up a spiritual conversation with a man in his 20s who was sitting across from me.
“Wow, that’s a huge book you’re reading,” I commented, “What are you studying?”
“I’m actually editing a book that my father wrote. This is the Chicago Manual of Style.”
“Well, you are a wonderful son!” I replied, “Editing is not the fun part of writing. Your father must really appreciate you.”
“Well, he’s paying me.” We both laughed.
“What type of book did your father write?”
“It’s a book on religion and spirituality. My father is a university chaplain.”
“Excellent!” I responded. “So are you a Christian also?”
“Well,” he hesitated, “Not exactly. I’m agnostic. There might be something out there, but I don’t think you can really know if it’s God, and especially if it’s the God of the Bible or some other religion.”
“How do you know that?” I asked. “Surely, you don’t believe that the universe popped into is own existence, without a cause?”
“Well,” he replied, “What caused God?”
“No one,” I responded, “God by definition is the Uncaused Being. Stephen Hawking said that everything and time itself, had a beginning at the Big Bang. If this is true, it’s more probable and rational to believe that the cause of the Universe in its very nature is uncaused, eternal and very powerful. That’s what I mean by God.”
Next thing you know, this young man and I were having a spiritual conversation for about 30 minutes about God’s existence, Jesus and the Bible. I offered to buy him another coffee and I got to learn his story. Most importantly, I was able to share the message of God’s grace through faith in Jesus.
Later that afternoon, a college student sat down across from me with another story. He told me, “I’ve been looking and searching for the truth. I didn’t grow up in church. My girlfriend is Jewish, but I want to know if God is real. She doesn’t believe that Jesus is the Messiah. I’m not really sure what I believe.”
Together, we looked up Isaiah 53 on his computer, and he identified that the passage was talking about Jesus, even centuries before His birth.
After talking for a while, he asked for my email, so I handed him card that said I Am Second and gave him the first book in the Coffeehouse Chronicles, “Is the Bible True…Really?”
Hopefully, we’ll stay in touch.
Was either one of these guys converted on the spot to become a Christian? No.
Nevertheless, I was thankful that we had the opportunity to talk about Jesus Christ. Many of us may profess Jesus, but we don’t like to talk about Jesus outside of church. What do most Christians do? Well, they invite their nonbelieving friends to their seeker church, or talk about missions or humanitarian efforts. Perhaps they will share their story of how bad they were then and how good they have become.
These are all good conversations, but Jesus commanded us to share the gospel with others. What is the gospel? The gospel is the deity, death and resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15).
Josh McDowell and I wrote the “Coffeehouse Chronicles” because we want Christians to be equipped to take their spiritual conversations deeper. It’s good to talk about your church, your story, or your humanitarian efforts, but the goal of these conversations is to lead into the most important conversation.
The most important gift that you can offer is the “living water” of Jesus Christ. His story. His deity. His death. His resurrection. His free gift received through faith. That’s the gospel. Humanitarian efforts are wonderful. Josh and I have ministered to the poor with in Russia, Poland, Haiti and Africa.
James 1:27 says that serving the poor is good religion, and it is indeed a part of good religion, but good religious actions are not the same as the gospel of salvation through Christ. I pray that we will equip believers to know why they believe what they believe and to center the spiritual conversation, not on your church or your community, but on the very person of Jesus Christ.