I was handing out gospel tracts near Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. The sultry, still weather of the first weeks of school were behind us. It was a brisk fall day and the leaves were flying past me, their warm hues reminding me that the days of warm weather had also flown by.
I offered a student one of our gospel tracts as he walked by. He stopped and replied, No thank you, I don’t need that. I’m a seminary student.” I was puzzled that a future minister would decline to receive a gospel tract, but I thought maybe we could “talk shop” a little. He told me his name was Adam and I told him, “We’ve found that a good conversation opener for street ministry is the question, ‘Who do you think Jesus is?'” Adam’s reply shocked me: “I don’t know who Jesus is and I don’t see that it matters much.”
I asked Adam why he was in seminary and he replied that he wanted to become a minister. “And what will your message be?” I asked, to which he responded, “I haven’t determined that yet.” The street light changed to green and Adam continued on his way. There weren’t many clouds in the sky on that windy fall day but as I pondered this encounter I felt my own demeanor begin to cloud.
I find it confusing and upsetting to think about someone giving his life for the Church when he doesn’t know her head, the Messiah Jesus. Certainly no church service is more exciting than the One we come to worship, and if we pay no attention to Him, what is the point?
Apparently, Adam was the kind of person referred to in Jude 1:12. people who are “religious” for their own purposes and desires, people who are like clouds without rain. Yes, on a beautiful, windy, fall day there were no clouds in the sky, yet I had seen a cloud without rain. He was walking down the street, preparing to enter the pulpit. What a desert the church that calls him will be.
As sobering as it is to meet future ministers who are not Christians, it is a reminder to those of us who do know Christ. We, too, can become like clouds without rain if we are not careful. Certainly we know who Jesus is, we know what we believe. But what are we, if we stop telling people about Jesus, both in word and deed? A Christian who does not communicate the love of Christ is an empty cloud, a promising appearance that holds no true refreshment for those who are spiritually thirsty. May God help us never to become like clouds without rain!