So here’s how it happened to me, I told him.
I read the Bible. Not the whole thing cover to cover in one sitting of course. Here’s why I read it. When I was sixteen years old, my parents gave me my first Bible, which had the inscription from them, “Use it as your guide. Love, Mom and Dad.”
It was a King James Bible, which seemed to me as useless as a dry well in the desert. The language just didn’t cut it with me, so I ignored it. Eventually, over the years, I lost it.
Sometime after my father died and before my mother passed away, the unaccountable need to see what they were talking about came over me. So I got a bible, this time the NIV translation. While glancing through it, I came across this verse:
45 Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?”
46 “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards replied.
(John 7:45-46, New International Version)
“No one ever spoke the way this man does…” As a writer, I found that oddly compelling. I wanted to know what Jesus said that had such a profound effect on them.
I did the only logical thing at that point, I actually read through the things that Jesus said. And I read them again. And again. Something inside me began to change.
As I was relaying this story to my new friend from work, I saw that he was actually listening. I wasn’t trying to convert him, I was just sharing my story.
So I continued by telling him that I hit another verse in the writings of the Apostle Paul that struck a nerve with me, and he asked me what it was. He was asking, not just playing along.
It was this, I said:
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”[c]
20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”[d]
2 And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.[e] 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.”
(I Corinthians 1:18-3:5, New International Version)
Don’t get me wrong, my lunch companion- the engineer from work- wasn’t hanging on my every word. He was genuinely interested. The resistance he’d showed to the “Jesus kids” at the far table was gone. I think in part that was because I wasn’t “pushing” at him, I was just talking.
So I thought I saw, I said, that logic wasn’t involved til later. You to have a heart open to God first, then when he calls you, you have an easier time seeing the truth. Otherwise, Jesus doesn’t make sense. When you read what he said, you can hear and know that this man is different from anyone who has ever lived. I told my friend that reading and meditating on what Jesus said kind of opens our ears and our hearts. If that doesn’t happen, I said, a person will never believe in God or Jesus or Heaven or Hell. How are they supposed to believe in Heaven or Hell unless God opens their hearts and minds? So first seek God through prayer and his words, then God will show us the truth.
Finally, my last thoughts to him were that when I found this verse, I really could feel the presence of God in my life through his words:
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
(Matthew 6:33, New International Version)
That was what I told him and I hope it helped, because after reading what the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians, it was clear that logic and reason weren’t first in line. Also that there was no sense trying to find heaven using GPS coordinates.
I never saw my lunch companion again, but I hope some day I’ll hear back from him and he’ll say that he started out first seeking the Kingdom God and ending up with meeting him in person through the words and person of his son Jesus Christ.