Intently pedaling on the stationary bike at the gym, I was listening to a new book: Person of Interest: why Jesus still matters in a world that rejects the Bible, when an older fella slowly walked in front of my bike.
“What are they doing over there?” he asked, gesturing to an area that was blocked off by floor to ceiling black plastic for construction of some kind.
“I don’t know - they have been doing all kinds of work, one section at a time,” I replied.
“I’m just getting back in here . . . yeah, been with my wife taking care of her, but she got her angel’s wings last week.”
“Oh my goodness, your wife died last week? I’m so sorry.” I jumped off my bike and hugged him tight.
“Fifty-eight years,” he said, and produced a picture of her that he was wearing around his neck, tucked under his sweatshirt. I listened as he smiled and told me how they met at Korvette, a New Jersey big box store who was way ahead of the rest. He told me about their courtship, things about their lives.
Honestly, I was fighting distraction because of this symbol he had on a gold chain, and so finally said, "Hey, tell me about your pendant.”
[Picture the COEXIST religious oneness bumper sticker plus more!]. He described the Ankh, the Star of David, the Cross, the Tao symbol, Islamic star and crescent….all of which I could see for myself because it was not small!
“So which one do you believe?” Now we’re getting to it--best discussions ever.
“Well I was born Jewish--Hebrew schools, (spoke some Hebrew to prove it), “but my wife was Catholic, from elementary school through college. And me? I’m agnostic. I’ve got too many questions--especially about science and religion.”
“Hmmm…/’Curious if you’ve read the Bible…?”
“Yeah, Old Testament and parts of the New back in school.”
“But have you read it for yourself?” I asked as I pedaled.
He kinda shook his head, swiped his face thoughtfully with his index finger and said, “No, no - I guess I haven’t.” He looked down and then back up - “Hey, what do you do?”
I smiled and answered.
“That makes sense,” he said. “I told my wife I hope she’s right about her version of what comes after this life - I’d hate to go into any part of eternity not holding her hand.”
So - he is entertaining the notion of eternity and what can be known of Heaven; he believes science is incompatible with faith in God, yet a question mark hangs over it all and he seems content to leave it that way.
“Do you believe archaeology is a science?” “Well of course,” he responded.
That gave me the opportunity to tell him of the one live dig I have closely observed in process/progress: Magdala on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. Before 2008, there was no proof of a synagogue in that area, though the gospels cited Jesus teaching in one - wait, Jesus…Person of interest - the audiobook in my ear? Okay, that's funny!
This is it--the reason I read, the reason I study -- to be able to tell another why there is a ton of evidence for Jesus, for the truth of the Bible, for the hand of God throughout history, and that science and the Bible are certainly compatible.
Paul told Timothy: Study so that you can rightly explain the Word of God.2
Peter also said we ought ‘always be ready to explain to others the hope we have in God, and to do it in gentleness and respect.’3
I will watch for Bob and hope for more conversation about the Person of the Greatest Interest ever, our Jesus--casual conversation to offer hope and peace. Be observant; look for opportunities - it is the greatest adventure ever.
Besides, there is no better time than Christmas to talk about Jesus! Bob needs hope as he has never needed it before - but so do you, so do I. More people read the recent briefing on peace by a margin of 10% than any other of late. Jesus is the answer. Brand new song that captures so much: I Still Believe in Christmas. -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKkFyaRpfUo&list=PLrCXQ2rP_isYVGel1PK5p76b0Jyi95Qsk&index=2
1 - Person of Interest, brand new book by J. Warner Wallace, Cold-Case detective from Southern California
2 - 2 Timothy 2.15
3 - 1 Peter 3.15