In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
Today at the office, a co-worker suddenly asked if I had seen the movie, God’s Not Dead. Then his question led to another, asking me to prove to him that God is real.
Have you ever been asked the same question by someone sometime in your Christian life?
While flipping the pages of the newspaper, he said that he questions God’s existence because of the prevalent chaos and conflicts happening in the world today. He pointed out the ongoing struggle in middle east, quoting international political and religious leaders that kill people with different beliefs, using the name of God. Then, he goes on with God being the reason that people are killing each other, claiming these are the will of God.
I was taken aback for a few seconds before I responded. I was just caught off guard with these questions after questions of God’s existence and how people are using the Creator’s name to justify their negative actions.
So, I shared with him my faith story, and how I have experienced God’s presence in my life. I told him that God’s grace exists even if we don’t believe because God loves us. As I continued to share my personal encounters with God, he cut me off, saying, “I respect you for what you believe, but I am an athiest, I hope you also respect that. Your experience is personal, but what about the social proof that God exists? How does it affect me? I still don’t understand it.”
He added that I should stop telling him “God bless you” every time I bid farewell because it doesn’t make sense and he doesn’t believe in God. “You’re just wasting the blessings you expect your God would give me because I don’t believe it.”
I was trying to explain to him God’s grace, and that I know God is with him. But these words just made him more agitated to the conversation. I decided to stop.
There was silence in the room for a few minutes, and he started to ask again, “look, you are very kind, you are different, you always share what you have with us. I appreciate that, and I can tangibly feel your blessings, but still that doesn’t show that God is real.”
At that moment, as I continually asked for the Spirit’s intervention, I blurted out, “I know that God’s spirit is within me, and that makes me naturally do what I do—out of LOVE.”
“From now on, ‘I bless you,’” I told him as I packed my stuff, ready to get off from work. He replied, “That’s more like it because it’s real and tangible!”
When Jesus ascended to heaven after His resurrection, He assured His disciples that they will never be alone because the Holy Spirit will be with them very soon. He promised to all His disciples that we “will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon (us), and (we) will be His witnesses…” Acts 1:8
Jesus’ message is clear–by the power of the Holy Spirit in us, we can also bless others, especially to those who don’t know God yet, because “He is with us always” Matthew 28:20b.
We are still in constant conversation about faith and God. It may have seemed hopeless to try to explain, and discuss logically with him, but I am positive that his curiosity to know and argue more about my beliefs will lead him to transformation by the Holy Spirit. He is in my prayers and I know God is using me to bless him and to see God through my life. (Pressure?)
As missionaries it is important that we don’t only tell God’s love but most importantly SHOW it through our lives. God will use the fruits of our faith to show the people around us God’s existence. Like my experience, this co-worker noted the difference in my life and has been seeking for answers, which I believe the Holy Spirit will show him at the right time!
Maybe you’re in the same situation as I am. Maybe someone has been asking you the same things. How did/do you respond? Write your responses below and let’s use this space to share and discern each other’s struggles in this kind of situation. Hope to read your reflections as well!