I work with a Muslim doctor who loves to talk about religion and is not so subtle about his desire to convert me to Islam, or at least convince me that it is a better religion. He likes to show me online teachings from the Quran, he has shown me YouTube video of some evangelical preacher that converted and, one day he brought me a 250-page book which he claimed was a fair and unbiased comparison of Christianity and Islam.
I had already read a few of this kind of book in the past but it had been a while, so I made myself read it. The author was an ordained Methodist minister who had graduated from Harvard divinity school but who had spent the latter years of his life in the Middle East because his love of Arabian horses. The book was well written, but the logic was of the worst kind, always biased in favor of Islam. And the author didn’t believe that the gospels were written by Matthew, Mark, Luke or John but were constructed from stories about one hundred years later making them unreliable.
Maybe in heaven I will get some kind of reward for reading that book.
On the day that I was going to return the book I thought over a dozen different ways to refute the arguments that I had read but I abandoned each one, knowing that they wouldn’t change the set way of my doctor friend’s mind. Everything that I thought of had my logic going against his champion’s logic, or my book, the Bible, going against his book, the Quran. For a time, I could only see academics against academics or book against book, and I then remembered that I have seen many people following Jesus who have never been educated and who couldn’t read. Because I am educated and academically minded, I had forgotten that it is not the cleverness of the argument that convinces people for Christ, but it is an experience that one has with the Holy Spirit.
When I returned the book, I sat down and simply told him my story. I was raised by a professed atheist and was a cynic until I heard the gospel and met God. That meeting has changed my life for over forty years. That was my outline, but it took me about forty-five minutes to tell the whole thing in my style. Those of you that know me know that I have an unfortunate habit of being hyper-loquacious. Sadly, my friend was unchanged, saying that Islam was a religion whereas Christianity seemed to be more of a spiritual experience and he preferred something that was more logical.
Main point: Following Jesus IS a spiritual experience. That doesn’t necessarily mean that we are driven forward by mystical forces at every turn, but it does mean that God’s Holy Spirit lives inside of us, producing good fruit.
So what? For Americans, it’s Thanksgiving time! Where would we be without that Holy Spirit? I would probably be lying in a ditch. Encourage one another with texts of thanksgiving for the life he has given us through the Spirit. And tell your story to the lost.