I confess that some of the sayings of Yeshua haunt me. Flying in the face of modern logic and normal” reasoning, they challenge me to a reality that is neither rose-colored nor pessimistic—the reality of God’s love working in this world. In God’s reality, 300 men are stronger than 3,000; a widow’s mite is treasured above a king’s purse; and the search for finding one’s true life begins with losing it.
When I’m ministering to unbelievers, one particular story comes to mind that poignantly measures the disparity between the “wisdom” of men and the “foolishness” of God. It’s found in the 16th chapter of Luke, where Yeshua spoke about the rich man and Lazarus, a poor beggar.
In death, the rich man looked from the fiery torment of judgment into heaven; and upon seeing Lazarus there in Abraham’s bosom, he pleaded with the patriarch to send Lazarus to cool his parched tongue with a drop of water. Abraham explained that this was impossible, so the rich man made another appeal. He asked the patriarch to send Lazarus to his brothers who were still alive, that he might warn them of the need for repentance based on the reality of hell. The rich man’s request was actually an accusation that God’s evangelistic tactics and methodology were flawed.
Abraham’s reply is important for all who take the Great Commission seriously. He viewed the rich man’s petition from a heavenly perspective, pointing out the sufficiency of God’s Word to bring sinners to repentance. The rich man, however, countered with what he thought was a better approach, based on “current marketing strategies.”
As a missionary, sometimes I fall into the same mind-set as the rich man. I find myself wishing that God would zap everyone into heaven for a three-hour seminar. He could call it something like “Everything you ever wanted to know about God but were afraid to ask him,” or “Sin-busters”; or it could even be a minicourse like “Theology 101,” with an exam afterward. During the heavenly sojourn, the Holy One would demonstrate incredible miracles, unfathomable wisdom and infinite love. People then could make their choice for or against God, knowing the certainty of his reality. I’m not too sure what should happen next, but given the chance, I probably could come up with an appropriate epilogue.
That’s my silly human idea, but God doesn’t go in for cheap “hocus-pocus.” He is seeking and calling people to himself through the simple power of his Word and the foolishness of human preaching. Yes, his miracles are evident today for all those who truly wish to see; but they are best viewed with the heart, not with the eyes.
The Lord doesn’t have a Plan B. And when I read of Abraham speaking of Moses and the prophets, I can see you and me being mentioned. No, we aren’t responsible for producing Holy Writ as they were, but our lives should reflect God’s glory and be further proof of the truth of Yeshua’s regenerating power. We are to be “living tablets,” as it were, to be read by all who know us. God sees the believer’s story and the power of Scripture as more important than any fancy sleight of hand. And we, too, should see it that way.
Not long ago, I sat in a restaurant with an unbeliever with whom I have been meeting regularly. Because we had become friends, I felt I could ask him, “What would it take for you to believe?” He looked down in thought and then replied, “Honestly, I don’t know. I guess I’m looking for some kind of zap from heaven.” Before I could relate to him my flighty notion of a proposed celestial evangelistic rally, he interrupted my thoughts with, “But you know, it’s probably better having you here. You can’t really trust a zap from heaven, but I trust you, because I’ve seen what Jesus has done in your life.” I think that man is on his way to faith!