This morning began like every other morning this week. Willie and I got up at about 7ish and headed to the coffee shop down the street. We sat around a table for a while, I had a coffee and a bagel, and chatted with one of the regulars named Jim. It was just casual conversation for about 30 minutes. Then Willie met his cousin and his fiance there to do some marital counseling. So while he was doing that I remained at the table with Jim and steered the conversation to a more spiritual focus. I questioned Jim about His faith and beliefs. Then ensued a hour and a half long conversation. Jim explained that he is part of this sweat lodge. He was adopted and raised by Native Americans. So over the years he has adopted what he calls "the basics". These basics he referred to I gathered to be his hodgepodge conglomeration of "truth" that he has selected from Native American religion, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. I really challenged him and questioned how he managed to set the standard for what he could select from these religions to be truth. We talked, or rather he talked and I listened, at times poking holes in what he was saying and then allowing him to rebutle and essentially talk himself in circles. Never in my life have I ever felt such a wide variety of emotions from a single conversation. It was extremely frustrating because I couldn't straight out tell him he was wrong without ending the conversation. So I listened and question and got absolutely no where. It was humorous at times to see him respond to my questions and completely sway from one idea and then refute himself in the next. Most of all it was sad. As I sat there and listened to Jim I began to really connect with the sense of sorrow that Jesus shared at the end of Matthew 23. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing." Jim was completely content with his beliefs. He believed in a "supreme being," but he said he wasn't willing to commit to anything more than that because "how can you really know?" Jim didn't want the truth because with that truth comes responsibility. If he really committed, even if not to Christianity he would have a responsibility to adhere to the teachings. At the end of our conversation he said, "you know I could be wrong and I guess that means I'm going to hell, and so what."
I realized more today than ever that it is not my job to save people. I had some great apologetics and asked some really solid leading questions that according to the books I've read should have lead this guy to the right answers. God is the only one who can save Jim and anyone else for that matter. God has to lift the veil, sometimes he might choose to use me to help and sometimes it's just planting seeds.
It really broke my heart to see the deception that Satan has seized Jim with. For instance He prayed to spirit guides (justified by Catholics praying to "saints" and his native american background) and believed that we have power within ourselves to bring about healing. There were all kinds of things that were complete lies from Satan that he latched on to. It was a tough conversation for me to hold my tongue in. I left that coffee shop with a new sense of awe and thankfulness for the grace that God has showed me that I may know his truth. I could just as easily have been sitting in Jim's shoes on the opposite side the the table if it were not for the Grace and Mercy of Jesus that I may know him.