A sure sign of spring today – I took my car to have my snow tires removed. While I waiting to give my keys to the owner of the garage, we got into a conversation. It’s one of those that Christians pray to be able to have, and then hold our breath when it actually happens.
He asked if I was married to the minister with the same last name. When I told him yes, his response was, “I would have never guessed that he was a minister. He’s just a regular kind of guy. Most ministers I know are so uptight. Not Jeff.”
I told him that he had just paid my beloved the highest of compliments.
He then went on to tell me, that he had grown up in a Jewish community, but he wasn’t very religious. I told him that neither Jeff or I were very religious either. The look of amazement was something to behold. I shared with him, that it’s religion that causes all of the problems people have with meeting God. The Pharisees were really good at putting rules around people and their behaviours, but really lousy at pointing people to relationship with our Creator.
He agreed that the Pharisees were strict, and that’s how he has experienced a lot of ministers. We talked about how in the Old Covenant, God desperately wanted a relationship with His people. Adam and Eve were created to commune with God. They broke that with disobedience, and we have managed to carry on – each generation perfecting the disobedience just a little more. Jesus came to show us perfect relationship with God, the Father.
I went on to share that Jesus came to fulfill the Law (all the details that had been put into place), and to establish a New Covenant. One that would allow us the privilege of being in a right relationship with God.
It was there that someone else came in, and his attention needed to turn to other customers, but I pray that a seed will have been planted. He had noticed that we seem to be upfront, honest and approachable people. Not his experience with “religious” people. He will have noted that again when it came time for me to pay for his expertise. He said that if I was paying cash, it was X amount. When I asked for a receipt, he said he’d have to charge me the tax. My response was , “I planned to…unto Caesar, and all”.
How often do we get in the way of the Gospel we are trying to share. Do we just say the words, or do we live a life consistent with the truth of the relationship we walk in.
When working with families, I remind them that their children are sponges, and they soak in everything they see the parents doing. If service people are paid under the table, and taxes are not collected, then a logical conclusion for a child is, “Why report all my income? The Government doesn’t need all my tax…”. Small things with a consistent message are what makes an impact for our children.
Praying before a meal, praying when we are in the middle of something difficult, or giving thanks for something good, all model true conversation with our Heavenly Father.
If I had been willing to pay under the table, after having a conversation about right relationship, what would that have said about how much I value what God is shaping me into? Others are watching for Jesus followers to behave just that way – will we point them toward him, or help them to stay out of relationship with Him?