Thinking about a conversation this week with a man as I was sharing HIS Story with him. The man, we will call Bob, lives here in Pensacola for over 50 years now minus a few years away in early adulthood. As we discussed his story, he shared that he was Cathoic but doesn’t attend any more. He had married a protestant woman and they never really fit in the Catholic church again. He said that he attended a non-denom church with her a few times through the years but whenever he did, they were “bashing Catholics.”
Here is the interesting point for me…This man did not remember what these churches were FOR, only what they said they were against. He did not know the differences in doctrinal beliefs. he did not know why they held to their beliefs in the Gospel. He only knew they were against Catholics.
Here is what else is interesting…Bob was already out of the Catholic Church…but now he felt compelled to defend it. The efforts of these chruches actually pushed him closer to the Cathoic church. His position as a “Catholic” was now more galvanized.
I don’t imagine that any of the churches or their pastors intended to galvanize this man’s Catholic allegiances. I don’t suspect they wanted him to become resistent to the gospel or to withdraw from attending any church. I suspect their desires were, in fact, the opposite; however, if we focus on what we are against rather than what we are for…we should not be surprised at the unintended but anticipated outcome.
I shared truth with Bob. We discussed the similarities of the faith and had a cordial discussion. We have a little room now for future follow-up but it will be tough sledding. I pray for Bob…but I also pray for us, those with a mandate to share the Gospel (which is all of His people):
- That we would be wise stewards of opportunities to speak of our King.
- That we would be bold and kind at the same time.
- That we would share truth in love. If either is lacking, the “gospel enterprise” is deterred.
- That we would speak. Frankly Bob meets 4-5 believers a week as customers. He seemed surprised that one (me) would actually invite him to attend a church event in the coming days since he is most definitely a “Catholic,” and I am not. [I invited him to come to my Christmas Eve Service and told him I would not be offended if he did not wear a tie if he was not offended that I would not be wearing my robe :)].
- Finally, that we would repent of majoring on minors when all eternity hangs in the balance.
Your thoughts are welcomed. What would you do differently? How might you handle “Bob’s” experience?