Failure can be described as not coming through on an assigned task, or falling short of expectations from a higher authority or self. That’s what I feel today as I learned of a death in the community while I was making a stop at my local parts shop.
The cashier said “Oh hey Mike! How are ya today? Ready for the snow we’re about to have AGAIN?”, like normal. “I’m great! Just getting sick of this snow, I’d pay to have it stop by now.” I grinned, she laughed then went to a more serious look, “Did you hear about the guy from Classic Cut?” I knew exactly who that was as it’s hard to NOT know every landscaper in my town. “No.. what happened?” “He died a few days ago, the wake was Saturday.”
I was stunned. This dude was 36 years old. He was healthy, I always saw him at the gym. For all I know, he wasn’t in to drugs, heavy drinking, or terrible eating. He, very simply, was alive one minute, and dead the next. They found him in his chair in his house with the tv still on, and expect he had been there for a few days. I don’t know why it happened, but if I did it really wouldn’t change anything.
I did not know this man too well, but being a landscaper, we did know each other. He was the guy from Classic Cut, I was the guy from Creekside. We talked countless times at the gym during the winters and joked about how we’re trying to stay in shape so we can be ready to tackle landscaping season, as well as the traditional crap we deal with with customers. We’d bump into eachother at the store I was at today and share a quick laugh. We would pass each other on the road 2, maybe 3 times a week, and we would wave. Also, his house was less than 1000 feet from mine.
And never ONCE did I share the gospel.
Never once did I speak of the Jesus I love so dear and claim to be saved from my sin by. Never once did it cross my mind that he may not know Christ and I could be the only one in his life to introduce him. I wonder if he even knew I was a Christian. Not only did our conversations exclude the most important thing to be discussed, but I’m certain I probably entertained foul talk. You know, manly talk, the talk that we feel justified to have as men, even if we’re Christians, because, well, we’re men and thats just the way it is. Right?
I’m not judging him, because only God knows his heart and only God can save it. Maybe he was a devout follower of Christ? Regardless, I should have known. I should have steered a conversation in that direction to at least know where he stood. I should have lived a life in front of him that caused him to wonder, “what is different about Mike?”, and witness to him through my actions and speech. As much (or as little) as I know, the man I had EVERY opportunity to witness to could very well be at this moment in actual hell. A man could be in tormenting pain this second because I wasn’t humble enough to look like a fool and be the “dude that won’t shut up about Jesus stuff.” I fell for the notion that “this is the gym, you lift here, not talk about God,” or “this is just work stuff, we don’t need to include God here.”
I can recall praying in church “God, if you put someone in my path that you want me to witness to, I’ll do it!” I don’t know if I expected a post it note on someones forehead reading “witness to me” because there was a man that lived 15 seconds from me, was in my field of work, shopped at the same stores as me, lifted the same weights at the same time as me, and my witness was silent. How pathetic.
What do you do when your favorite sports team wins? Keep it to yourself? Dale Earnhardt Jr. (my favorite driver) just won the Daytona 500 (my favorite race). I must have texted 20 of my bros about how pumped I was about this good news. We don’t share this truth about Jesus taking our sin and giving us His righteousness because it’s our duty, we share because we are OVERJOYED and can’t find the ability within ourselves to silence our mouths about it. In fact, our joy is not made complete until we have brought other people to enjoy it with us, just as I did with the race.
When people die, our natural inclination is to always selfishly think of ourselves and how fragile OUR lives are. How often do we think and give a care about how short the lives could be of the people around us? What is their eternal destiny? We don’t have to travel halfway across the world to access a mission base. We’ve got people to love to life in our own backyard.
If God works through people to awaken the hearts of other people, then we are responsible for what it looks like. The fruit displays the root. If there is no fruit (evidence) of salvation, we’ve really got no business telling people we’re Christian. Why do we think we can separate our “Christianity” status from our lifestyle? As if one doesn’t hinder or affect the other? As if everything we do doesn’t have eternal consequences for ourselves or others around us?
Let’s be honest with ourselves (myself included).
If we’re in church on Sunday but bar crawling Saturday night, we’re doing it wrong.
If we’re claiming to be saved by Christ, but our mouths don’t evidence it, we’re doing it wrong.
If the people we come in contact with don’t see the light of Christ shining from us, WE’RE DOING IT WRONG.
Yes, life is fragile. God has a number of how many days you will live, so pursue him and allow him to pursue you with your life, but not just for you. Pursue God with your life by loving and serving others, so that some might be saved.
“And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.'” Mark 16:15-16
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Romans 1:16
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Mark 5:16
I’m embarrassed by my hypocrisy. I’m angered by my worthless talk and misuse of time. But I’m fueled to hunt down open doors with sharp eyes and take captive every opportunity I’m presented, to live a life that honors Christ so He can work through me and in the lives of others.