I hit the streets of York with Matt this evening, after having a brief chat and study on sin together at McDonald's. I was asked, "Do you struggle with sin?" How could I answer "No"! Of course I do, and my biggest struggle is S-E-L-F, which is simply an acronym for self. My prayer is to be led by the Spirit and put this enemy to death, as we focused our attention back to our great Savior of sinners.
After we left McDonald's, we first prayed, then started walking. We offered tracks to those who passed by. The first man seemed like a possible true believer, although he really didn't stop to talk with us much.
We walked around the block, and as we passed by the Market court, we saw a group of homeless guys sitting around. So we went to them and recognized some of them. I sat with one guy and talked loud enough for the others to hear. We covered heaven, hell, the law, repentance, the cross, faith in Christ, grace, the Holy Spirit in salvation, the resurrection of Christ, judgment. This conversation set the stage for all the rest I had tonight. There was also a woman there trying to have a ministry to these guys, and another lady with a squirrel tattoo on her arm feeding squirrels.
The guy was drinking a little, so after shaking hands about three times, we left them and walked up the street. There we met someone sitting on a bench in high 80 degree weather with winter socks on and a winter coat. He was younger than most homeless guys, and seemed a little mentally slow. So I talked with him about salvation for a while. He listened patiently but wouldn't accept a New Testament from me.
That was when two young fellows came strolling by, occupied with thoughts of smoking weed. I caught them as they were passing and began asking them questions. They were stunned as we went through all the things I mentioned above, and were clearly at the dividing line. Either repent and leave all behind to find eternal life in Christ, or perish forever in hell for every sinful deed whether bad or good.
"I want to trust God so I'll have a good life," one said. I replied, "If you trust Christ, your life will become worse, not better." He was shocked and didn't understand at first, asking, "Why?" I said, "Because God promised that you would suffer with Christ if you trust in Him."
We talked long, and I went on to explain that it would not be easy, but that there would still be joy, there would still be peace with God, eternal life, glory with Christ, but this life would be harder. They could not understand that, and soon after this they left. But the message was clear, "Jesus said, 'Repent and believe the good news." And I explained clearly why it is called "Good News", because salvation is freely given to those who have no righteousness of their own, nothing good in themselves, but who trust in Jesus Christ and submit to His Lordship, receiving Him for all that He is, their Life, their Prophet, Priest and King.
They got the message and left. Oh, that my compassion for the lost might be more like my Lord's, who wept for them. I feel very inadequate for this, but thankful for grace.