Tuesday, July 12, 2005

A Spiritual White Flag, Sort Of

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.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Howdy.

First let me say that “disgruntled” is one of my favorite words. It always makes me smile for some reason. The word “curmudgeon” is also a delightful word to me. I think this must say something about my true, inner self. Heh heh. I am also a P.K.

Your father’s story touched me and helped me, too. Almost three years ago my daughter (now 23) converted to a militant kind of traditional Catholicism that also ascribes to all kinds of conspiracy theories. They rail viciously against all Protestants and especially Luther. Not only are we heretics, but any priest who conducts Mass in English is suspect.

Anyway I have been struggling with how to bring her back into the Light. The first two years it was almost impossible to talk to her because she had become arrogant and condescending in her self-righteousness, but she has softened somewhat lately. I am usually in a constantly overwhelmed state, because, in order to turn her around, I feel I have to know Catholic doctrine inside out, and this is a most tangled mess that Satan, himself has authored. It is very depressing. She is very intelligent, and I think one reason she was attracted to Catholicism is because its all mind and no heart – all reason and no revelation.

Sometimes I worry that I am trying too hard and that this is a reflection on my faith – that I should trust God to do this work – that I should wait on the Lord. But then I think, no – that kind of thinking is the enemy trying to discourage me. I beg her always to read the Bible because I know that the Spirit works through the Word, but she is content reading silly fables about the lives of the Saints. Phooey!

I know how sad your father feels. We want the ones we love to have peace with God because therein lies all the true joy we can experience during our pilgrimage.

There is comfort always in the shadow of the Almighty. Romans 8:24-28 is written on my heart.

disgruntled world citizen said...

You know, I can understand this, but you can take some solace in the fact that she is still involved in "the church," or as she probably looks at it THE CHURCH.

I have decided that in cases like my father and his friend is all we can do is pray. Same with your daughter. That and live the faith you have.

Thank you for you comment. That means that there is someone out there reading this stuff. I appreciate your "shot in the arm" for this blog.

May the Lord and keep you, your family, and especially your daughter. Stay in the light of Christ Crucified and resurrected. Peace.

Anonymous said...

I used to take comfort in thinking that my daughter was still a member of the Body of Christ, but the deeper I have gotten into Catholic theology, I find that almost everything they teach and hold as “truth” militates against the Word of God and the Gospel of Christ.

I can not see into the heart of any Catholic, this is true, but I can read what they write. If, perchance, the Seed is planted and the fragile first sprout of faith emerges, Catholic doctrine will surely crush it with its heavy heel. While it is true that they speak the name of Jesus Christ, they yet preach “another doctrine”. The Council of Trent anathematized the Gospel and they have not retreated from their position.

My father never spoke a harsh word against the Catholic Church that I can remember, but he was a gentle man. When I first came across the LCMS doctrinal statement that the Pope was an anti-Christ a couple of years ago, I thought it was just a bitter hang-over from the Reformation. But no. Every passage in Scripture that warns against false doctrine describes in the clearest detail the teachings of the Church of Rome.

The question becomes: If you speak the name of Jesus but do not believe in His work on the Cross, are you a Christian? If you speak the name of Jesus but, with the addition of other mediators, you subtract from the Glory that belongs only to Him, are you a Christian? If you speak the name of Jesus and condemn the Gospel, are you a Christian? What is the Bible but another religious story without Christ Crucified? Don’t be fooled. They hang Jesus on the Cross but they leave Him there because they think His purpose is to frighten and condemn. It’s up to them to pay the dues for His suffering. It’s up to them to work their way into heaven. They talk about love and peace, but Aristotle has given them their definitions.

I sometimes think that it would be easier if my daughter had become an atheist. The prince of lies is far more clever when he sows his tares in the Church. It might be easier to plow faithless ground than ground that has been choked with thorns.

Oh! Now I am venting, and this is unattractive….but I am grateful for the opportunity…and your patience.

disgruntled world citizen said...

Brother,

If you feel the need to vent and you find this a safe place, go ahead, the space is yours.

Peace.