People are against religion, you know…

“People are against religion, you know…”

I’d just sat down to eat my two hot dogs when the man sharing our table informed me that people are against religion, including him.

My wife and I were celebrating our 53rd wedding anniversary at a Ringo Starr concert in L.A. We grabbed food at a concession outside the venue (33 bucks for two hotdogs, a hamburger and one coke) when this interesting conversation occurred. I’m OK with crowds but shy with strangers so it was a relative miracle that we even got to talking.

The guy asked what I do for a job so I explained that I train Christ-followers to make disciples and plant churches. He bluntly informed me, “People are against religion, you know!” Scrambling for a response I told him of the tiny, but growing re-kindling of interest in Jesus going on in Europe. He got polite and asked about my travels in Europe. I somehow stumbled onto mentioning that I had been to Normandy which piqued his interest. A mini-friendship was born.

Finding Common Ground

We were nearly late for the concert talking about books we’d read about the D-Day landings on the beaches of Normandy and about the rest of the 2nd World War. Our mutual interest turned what began as a fairly hostile conversation into a fun experience.

This budding friendship opened closed doors into this man’s life. While discussing the war and its aftermath I brought the subject around to the post-war disillusionment with God and how spiritually empty Europeans have become. He grew somewhat interested, and then his wife reminded us that we needed to get inside or we’d miss the concert.

A “Person of Peace”

I don’t remember his name. We live far apart and will never meet again. The conversation lasted no more than 25 minutes, but in that short time a I was able to build a bridgehead into a life otherwise numb toward the gospel. In Jesus’ terms this man would be the person of peace that would allow entry into the community of his family and friends.

My point? Where proclamation fails, friendship wins. It is easy to share Jesus if we take time to build friendship around what we have in common before discussing the faith that another person does not share. Now if I can just get over my struggle with talking to strangers…