Jesuspicious

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You never know who may be looking at how you live your life.

When I was a little girl, my best friend Sara lived in the cul-de-sac across from ours. Sara was a bossy, unkind girl, and she inherited her temperament from her high-strung mother. While I was busy learning a lot about patience and sharing during my friendship with Sara, Sara’s mom was evidently learning a lot from observing my mom.

A few years ago, decades after Sara and her family moved away to another city, Sara’s mother called my mom to let her know she had become a Christian. “So many of the other PTA moms tried to shove religion down my throat, but you quietly displayed the love of Jesus to me day in and day out. You are the reason I sought out God and eventually became a Christian. Thank you.” Until that point, my mom never knew the impact she’d had on Sara’s family. She was just loving Jesus and letting the love overflow. So often, that is all that is asked of us; that is all that is needed.

When I was in college, I was in a swing dancing society. A tall Chinese boy named Yun was a frequent dance partner of mine, but we didn’t talk much during our dances (because we were so out of breath from the fast tempo songs!). Yun and I both moved to the same city after college, and I see him from time to time when I visit the swing dancing group here. We are amiable, but I would call him more of an acquaintance than a friend.

Despite our perceived distance from my perspective, two weeks ago, I received an unexpected Facebook message from Yun. It was only one sentence, with no introduction or explanation. “What are the minimum requirements, in your mind, to be a Christian?”

I was completely taken aback but also really glad he felt comfortable reaching out to me with his question. I wrote back that I could answer over Facebook messenger, but I suggested we go out for coffee instead. Yun agreed.

We met a few days later, and Yun gave me the background for his question. He grew up in an atheist family in China, but after his father’s death several years ago and his grandmother’s latest bout of cancer, his mother encouraged Yun to settle down with a nice Christian girl. Yun’s mother is still an atheist living in China, but she thinks American Christian girls make good wives. She told Yun they will be kind, loving and faithful wives because they believe they are accountable to a Higher Power.

Yun has tried dating some nice, Christian girls, but he told me with frustration that none of them will date him unless he becomes a Christian, too. “I know that’s an ulterior motive… will God be mad at me if I become a Christian with impure motives? It’s hard being an atheist bachelor in the Bible Belt of America.”

I smiled thoughtfully at Yun. I appreciated his authenticity. “I think all of us have impure motives at some time, but God’s greatest desire is for you to know Him, so if He uses your desire to be married as a way to draw you to Himself, so be it. I think the fact that you’re asking if God would be bothered by it says a lot. I believe our desire to please God does in fact please Him.”

So Yun pulled out his iPad, where he’d developed a list of questions to ask me. Is baptism necessary for salvation? Do I have to be “good enough” to be a Christian? Why did Jesus have to die? Do I have to believe that Jesus was the Son of God? What if I want to believe but I can’t seem to muster up the faith in myself? Do you believe creation was literally seven days, or is that figurative? What do you think about the Big Bang Theory? Why is there suffering in this world if God is good, loving and all-powerful? Is going to church necessary?

The questions went on and on, and for hours I answered them as best I could, giving Yun passages of the Bible to read on his own so that he could search the Scriptures for himself. We talked a lot about Romans 6 and why someone who truly believes in Jesus’ deity, death and resurrection will live differently than before they believed.

In the end, Yun decided he wasn’t quite ready to accept Jesus’ sacrifice on his behalf yet, but he told me, “I want to believe. I want to become a Christian. I just need to think about it some more first. It’s not a decision I take lightly.”

I’m thankful Yun appreciates the weight of his decision. And I made sure he knows he can come back to me any time with more thoughts or inquiries. It was refreshing to talk about the hard questions of faith with someone who was genuinely seeking answers and not just looking for an argument.

Please pray for Yun, and if you are someone who is curious about my answers to any of the questions Yun raised, please feel free to comment or send me a private message!

Authentically Aurora

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The OJ Observer

Mediterranean faces

Ridiculously attractive through I am, even I have a hard time understanding how in the world I get hit on everywhere I go, including places like the gas station and grocery store. Some days, like yesterday, I’m not sure if it’s a blessing or a curse.

I went grocery shopping after work last night to pick up some ingredients for sugar cookies. I planned to bake some as a surprise for a friend who is a new mom. While picking out what flavor of Greek yogurt I want to eat for breakfast every morning next week, I felt someone watching me. I glanced behind me and saw a man in a white dress shirt and black slacks observing me from his position near the orange juice.

I moved on to the milk section of the store and, when I turned around to put my selected carton in my grocery cart, I bumped into someone. “Excuse me,” I said, looking up. It was the OJ Observer. I smiled politely and continued on my way.

After picking out my chosen brand of butter, I saw the man start to approach me. I figured he must be the store manager or something, so I prepared to tell him that yes, I was finding everything that I needed (it’s true; their chocolate banana yogurt is stupendous). Instead, when he opened his mouth, the words that came out were, “Are you Middle Eastern?”

I get that a lot. I’m actually almost full-blooded German, but when I was in Italy, all the locals thought I was Italian. In Greece, everyone came up to me and started speaking Greek, thinking that I was the translator for my group of fellow Americans. I swear, it’s the nose. I’ve got a honker of a nose.

Based on his accent and dark features, the OJ Observer was clearly Middle Eastern himself, so I wasn’t surprised when he told me, “I’m Lebanese. You look like you are from my country.” He then proceeded to ask if we could “be friends.” Friends… riiiight.

I tilted my head to the side and said coyly, “Could I ask you a personal question? What religion would you consider yourself?”

Instead of answering, he smiled and asked me, “What religion do you consider yourself?” Hm, smarter than I gave him credit for.

After I told him that I was a Christian, he told me, “My parents are Muslim, but I am an atheist.”

I explained that we could be friends, but I only date fellow Christians. His tone instantly changed from sweet and obliging to aggressive and angry. “You don’t even know me. Why would you already decide not to date me, just because I am an atheist?!”

I gently told him that everything I do in this life, I try to do to bring God glory. “I will love God more than I love my husband, and I believe that even my marriage is intended to equip me to better serve God than I could in singleness, so it’s important that my husband shares that vision.”

The OJ Observer looked curious and thoughtful. “You seem very passionate about your faith. I would like to hear more about this God you serve.”

I’m doubtful that he really wants to hear more about Jesus, but I agreed to meet him at a public, well-lit coffee shop next week to talk about “this God [I] serve.” An opportunity to share my faith came up, so I’m taking it. But I’m also asking my parents for a DNA test this Christmas.

Authentically Aurora