Wednesday, 07 October 2015 19:25
It started with a conversation about marriage. I mentioned that my wife and I have celebrated 21 years. That's when Weed Man piped up. “We're celebrating our first anniversary. Well, kind of. My partner and I meant to get married, and now it's legal, but we just haven't.”
How do you respond to that type of comment?
My life is split between Christian radio and retail. It's how God is providing for us right now. And it's how God is growing me...and asking me to rub shoulders with people who are outside my usual comfort zone. Way outside. Weed Man is one of those people.
We call him Weed Man because he comes in to work every Monday afternoon with a report on his weekend activities: Marijuana. Marijuana. And more marijuana. Sometimes he babysits his nephews. But it's mostly marijuana. It's legal in Colorado, but most workplaces are drug-free zones. Weed Man rides a fine line between enjoying his legal rights...and getting fired for failing a drug test.
So how do you share Christ with a weed-loving guy who's in a same-sex relationship...knows he's a mess, but doesn't want to change?
Christian radio did not prepare me for this!
What would you do? How do you engage messy people? How do you share the Gospel to someone who's far outside of the “Christian” world?
Here's what God has been teaching me:
1) Listen and get to know the person. Our industry is all about relationships. So are our lives. God has given me an opportunity to spend hours working alongside a guy who desperately needs the Gospel. God is helping me to see him as a person – not just as a target for the salvation message.
2) Care. Weed Man came into work one day looking upset. When I asked if he was ok, he responded, “My partner is fighting Hepatitis C again. I've been taking care of him.” Since then, I've been able to ask how his partner is doing, and how he is handling things. And its a genuine concern – and a point of connection in our friendship.
3) Look for tangible ways to demonstrate Jesus. God has opened the door to talk a little bit about my radio job. And I'm open about working in Christian radio. That's a plus and a minus. A plus because it provides a conversation starter. A minus because people hear “Christian” and their guard comes up. So sharing Jesus becomes more of a daily thing: listening to people, working hard, buying lunch for a co-worker who hasn't eaten since yesterday afternoon. It's a slow process, yes. Nothing at all like a well-prepped 30-second bit on air. It's tough and it means that I have to walk closer to God in order to share His word through words and actions.
Has Weed Man changed? Not yet. But God may yet use our time together to make a change in his life. Why am I telling you all this? It's not to brag about how God is using me. Instead, I'm challenging you to get to know a messy person. Get outside the bubble. Engage people in their world. Be a light in their darkness. And don't worry about their sin rubbing off on you. Jesus Himself already showed us how to engage a dirty world. In Matthew 8, He healed a man with leprosy. By touching the man. A ceremonially unclean man. In Christ's day, coming in contact with a leprosy victim meant you were defiled and had to follow the guidelines set out in Moses' law. But that didn't stop Jesus from touching him. Nor did it defile the God who created all mankind. God is bigger than any dirty mess in this world.
And what does this have to do with Christian radio? We're the front line. People scan the dial and hear our message. They might be dirty and unclean people. All the better. They – just like us – are prime candidates for Christ's life-changing touch. Will you dare to reach them?