I stepped into the sauna last week at the gym I frequent in the hopes of working on some sore muscles. The sauna is very popular and usually filled with men in varying forms of dress or undress.
I need you to know that I’m a dressed guy. I’m not a fan of burning my backside on hot wood.
Anyway, the discussion that day was on the weekend football scores and the latest wins and losses of our favorite teams. The conversation was (as you might expect) laced with varying levels of colorful language.
From football the topic shifted to the ISIS attacks in Paris and then to religion.
When one of the regulars in the sauna commented that he wasn’t religious, I responded that he should never say that with a preacher in the room. He replied rather wryly that he could outlast me–both in conversation and the sauna.
He had me on the sauna part, as this guy’s ability to sit in the heat is legendary. Plus, I just dropped 25 lbs. in a fast and probably shouldn’t be in the sauna at all.
Knowing that my time as limited and believing that God would honor my sacrifice if I died during the conversation, I dove in and asked the guy to explain himself.
Turns out he is a cancer survivor. He got cancer after he quit going to church here in Austin and was able to beat it on his own–“without prayer or any help from God.”
He is anti-religion but clearly believes in some higher source for everything, but he’s hesitant to call that higher source “God.” He’s very well read, especially in the areas of Eastern mysticism.
This guy took what he believes is the worst that life can throw at him and lived to tell about it. He basically doesn’t see any need for God.
I listened with great interest to the man’s story and I felt genuine compassion for him. I also knew that I only had about 30 seconds left in me before things would go dark.
I simply said, “I think God healed you. I think he gave you some extra runway in the hopes that you’d come back to him.”
I then said, “And in regards to perfect love, we do know what it is.” (He had referenced perfect love earlier in his comments and said that no one really knows what it is.)
I said, “Perfect love is the Son of God hanging on a cross for the two of us. That’s what perfect love looks like.”
And with that, we shook hands and ended conversation quite cordially.
I share this story with you for several reasons.
- If you will be alert, God will drop all kinds of opportunities into your day for you to talk about him. I also got to talk about why I had fasted for 40 days and the power of prayer. We meet people every day who aren’t afraid to share their worldviews. Let’s not be afraid to share ours.
- “Unbelievers” are not our enemies. The man in the sauna spent a lot of years in the Christian church before decided to leave it. He left for a reason. (I hope to ask him about it next time I see him.) Don’t be intimated or put off by people who reject your faith. Love them and be patient with them. Every last one of them has a story.
- Don’t debate. Just listen. Show respect and interest in their stories. And don’t be threatened by the stuff they spew about God. The Kingdom isn’t going fall because of the opining of a naked man in a sauna.
- Finally, sometimes thirty seconds is all you need. I was able to share the Gospel with this guy in less than one minute. (Actually, he already knows the Gospel. I just reminded him of it.) Some of you never share the message of Jesus because you’re worried about being out-argued. Don’t argue at all. Take thirty seconds to share your heart and let that be the end of it.
Trust me. God can take it from there.