I held my first street based Bible fellowship last week. It went very well. Four street dependent folks sat with me in the air-conditioned comfort of a church on Guadalupe Street (not my home church, so I really appreciate them opening up their doors for this missionary). They listened about the history of the Bible. They read aloud and discussed the first chapter of Mark. They raised questions like “do you really need to be baptized to go to heaven” and “how much does Jesus know about temptation.” Great questions. This went on for two hours of fellowship!
June 13, 2009
Later that week, I saw one young man who was there reading a New Testament. That was a new sight for me! Wow!
And at the end of the week, one man, Jesse, came to me and said he plans to participate this coming week. But first, Jesse had a question.
Some of his “friends” have blasphemed God in the past, and Jesse needed to know if God really meant they couldn’t go to heaven now. You see, his “friends” had gotten mad at God and cussed him. “They” had called him names and walked away from God. “They” had had nothing to do with God or Jesus for quite a while. But now “they” were sorry, but could they be forgiven. “Had they blasphemed?” he asked me very urgently.
I told him that clearly his “friends” had separated themselves from God when they had turned their back on him, cussed him, and called him names. God still loves us; however, we know that God is unchanging. As long as we remain with our back turned, he cannot accept us. However, when we humbly come back to God–turning around and repenting–it’s in God’s nature to love us, accept us, and take us back. God is unchanging in both cases. It is us who changes.
So, I told Jesse that his “friends” needed to turn back to God, needed to tell God and Jesus they were sorry, and needed to stay focused on God. I told Jesse that his “friends” needn’t worry about being unforgivable because of one utterance. The Bible tells us that to have blasphemed, to be blaspheming, and to continue to blaspheme is unforgivable. It seem naturally so, because in this state we are faced away from God and there is no way for us to ask for or receive God’s forgiveness. However, when we turn back to God humbly and ask forgiveness, his grace is there.
So, Jesse… Yes! Your “friends” can come home again. They are still beloved children of God. Jesus wants them to be his brothers, to bear with them, and to love and serve with them. Come on home! We’ll throw a party!