God Makes The Difference
I was handing out tracts on a college campus in Virginia , when a young man approached me. "I’m the president of Hillel (a Jewish campus organization)," he said. I smiled and asked, "What’s your name?"
"Michael," he said.
"I’m Avi." I extended my hand. He took it and gave it a quick, polite shake.
"What are you doing here?" he asked.
What I was doing there was obvious. But that wasn’t really what he wanted to know. "What do you think you’re doing here?!!" would have been more like it, I suspect. In any case, I explained that I was in the area on behalf of Jews for Jesus.
"Why do you believe in Jesus?" he asked.
"I’ve looked at the Hebrew Scriptures," I said, "and I believe them."
He stared squarely at me. "Do you believe in the Trinity?"
"I believe in one God revealed in three Persons, yes. That’s something I found in the Hebrew Scriptures, too," I added. "Are you familiar with Isaiah 48:16? ‘Come near unto me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I; and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me.’
He merely shook his head as a gesture of disapproval and started to walk away.
"You ought to look at the Scriptures," I called after him.
"I don’t have to," he offered in a half-hearted rebuttal.
He continued to walk away.
"What?" I called out, hoping to get him to stay and talk.
"I have looked," he said after a moment’s pause. But then he moved away even further.
"Which ones?" I asked. He said nothing and kept walking. He stopped just once more, but only to say "Adonai echad." Then he walked away.
He had answered me by quoting the latter part of Deuteronomy 6:4: "Hear, 0 Israel ; The LORD our God, is one LORD." With that verse, he thought he was telling me that the Lord is not a triune God, but a single "one," a single "echad."
I found myself thinking, "If only I could have engaged him a moment longer to explain that ‘echad’ means a composite unity, not a solitary absolute unity, that the ‘Shema’ actually affirms the possibility of the Trinity. If only," I thought.
Then I remembered that it’s never a question of "if only," because nothing we can say or can do will ever win a person’s heart for the Lord. Converting hearts is not our responsibility; it’s the Lord’s. God asks us to proclaim our faith in Him by joyfully seizing the opportunities He gives us to share. We need to walk through the doors He opens for us with the assurance that though our efforts will always be inadequate, God is there to make up the difference.
How gracious God is to free us from this burden! All we have to do is share. He does all the hard work.
Avi Snyder is a veteran missionary and director of the European work of Jews for Jesus. He pioneered Jews for Jesus’ ministry in the former Soviet Union, before launching works in both Germany and Hungary. He will share with you what is happening in Jewish evangelism in Russia and Eastern Europe. Avi received his theological training at Fuller Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Ruth, have three grown children, Leah, Joel and Liz.