Monday, January 18, 2010

Mixed Signals

Meghan is my Chinese Atheist student. This weekend she caused a stir on the campus of our school. On Friday, I gave her Bible class a take-home essay exam that asked students to explore the relationship of the Sermon on the Mount to Jesus' identity and mission. This was difficult, and it was especially difficult for a student who has no experience reading the Bible. I knew she would struggle, but I hoped she would produce something original.

On Saturday my wife noticed two of our staff members were on Facebook requesting prayer for Meghan. It seems that Meghan was becoming a "seeker," because she was asking questions about Jesus, God, and the Sermon on the Mount. The staff members witnessed to her and attempted to talk to her about the Gospel. They were authentic, and they care about her salvation. I appreciate their sincerity, but when I heard this, I knew what was happening.

Meghan was asking for homework help.

Today, I got to school and asked her about it; she confessed that she stressed about this assignment all weekend. Meghan also told me she asked for help from other teachers. Sure enough, when I read her essay, it was full of things that I have never said, and that she has never read in the Bible; it was witnessing material. I informed her of how her other teachers interpreted her questions, not academically but spiritually.

"I don't want God, I want an A," is how she responded.

Christians must realize that people we think are "almost Christians," might be in a different realm altogether. Be friends with people first, and find out what they are really asking. Find out what their life is about, and then proceed to the big questions. Meghan has no interest in becoming a Christian, because she sees no problem with her life.

Let's find out what people are truly asking instead of what we wish they were asking.


  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you. We are often so presumptive of people's motives that we blindly trek into conversations in hopes of conversion that are futile at best and damaging at worst.

  2. One thing I'm afraid this experience shows is a lack of trust on the part of other teachers that coming to understand Jesus in relation to his teaching, as it is presented in scripture, is a powerful witness. We tame the text in doing so, and not only mute its potential effect on the person, but on our selves as well. How dare we presume that our packaging of a series of theological ideas we call "the Gospel" is going to be more effective than honoring the person asking the question by answering their actual questions about the meaning of the text itself and the Person who is re-presented by it. And I say "how dare we" because I have been guilty of it myself.


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