It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6 if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.
-- Hebrews 6:4-6
My father's best friend is 180 degrees different from him. They've been friends for over fifty years in the last four or five their relationship has changed. My father, as most of you know, is a retired pastor. He was in the pastoral ministry for 40 years. His friend is a screaming atheist and he's gay. My father's friend came out of the closet after his wife of 30 some years died (yeah, we have a hard time wrapping our brain around that one, too).
My dad has been trying to witness to his friend for many years. They met when they were students at Brooklyn College. They were in a student organization called the SCA, which is short for the Student Christian Association. Somewhere along the line my dad's friend lost his faith and lost it hardcore. This has been weighing heavily on my father's heart. He has been trying to figure out a way to witness to his friend. HE has been stalwart to say that least. Yesterday, when I came home from work my dad sat at the kitchen table with me and said that he had found something in the Bible that spoke to him. He must of praying about it earlier in the day and God answered his prayer, but not in the way he wanted Him to.
He read me the above passage from Hebrews. He looked at me, with sad eyes, and said I think God is telling me something with this. I know he won't give up. My dad is pretty pig headed (and in this case I'm glad he is).
As with all things this has many levels. Deep. Many facets. I think my dad really needed those words, though. It seemed to give him peace somehow. He hasn't resigned and given up on his friend, but I think he realizes that there isn't much he can do. He will continue to pray for his friend, but realizes now, after a few comments this weekend from his friend-- who was visiting us the other day-- that he can't do it. His friend's heart is hardened. Its tough to see my father like that. His heart is so God filled he is one of the most religious men I know. He lives what he preaches. To see him with that look in his eyes of pure helplessness in regard to his friend was heartbreaking to me.
As we talked he said that he had also gone back and reread John 3:16-21. Which is pretty cut and dry. We all know john 3:16 pretty well, but as we talked I discovered that we both agreed that what came after that was even more important:
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” John 3:16-21
It would seem like this was a depressing talk and in some ways it was, but I think that a load was really taken from my father. He knows that he can only do so much. He knows that it is only through the Holy Spirit that his friend can find faith. HE will do what he can. I'll continue to pray for my father and his friend in this regard.