Yesterday, I was really blessed. The Lord gave me the opportunity to take to the streets of Los Angeles with two younger brothers in Christ--Jorge and Andrew. These two men of God co-lead the Evangelism Society at The Master's College, where they are both students. Jorge was too busy honorably and sacrificially serving his country in the military, right out of high school, to get an early start on college. Andrew will graduate this year and is hoping to attend Westminster Theological Seminary, Southern California.
Mahria and others were a bit nervous about me heading into downtown Los Angeles alone to open-air preach. It's good to be loved. :-) There was a collective sigh of relief when Mahria and others concerned heard that I had a couple brothers going with me.
It was a wonderful day of fellowship and ministry. We evangelized at Pershing Square and on Hollywood Boulevard, with a break for an amazing pastrami sandwich at a place just outside MacArthur Park. Many people heard the gospel by way of open-air preaching and conversations. And many others received the gospel by way of gospel tracts.
Some audio and possibly video from the day's efforts is forthcoming.
While waiting on the subway platform to make our way back to North Hollywood Station from Hollywood Boulevard, we met Omar. Omar claimed to have grown up in a Christian church, but converted to Islam because there was so much he didn't like about Christianity. Omar asserted, among other things: the Bible was written by a white man named King James; the concept of "one God" was brought about by King Tut's father; Jesus never existed.
While some might think it a little too sarcastic, I told Omar that he spent entirely too much time on the Internet.
Omar was also one of those people who wanted to have a conversation, so long as he was the only person to speak. When I could slip a word or two in, I asked Omar, "How do you account for truth and determine what is true?"
With a slight stammer, as his mind tried to catch up to his mouth, Omar answered, "Well, it's the truth that will set you free!"
"Omar, do you see what you just did? You assert that the Bible can't be trusted and that Jesus never existed, yet you quote the words of Jesus, from the Bible. You can't account for truth without coming into the Christian worldview to do it."
Befuddled and even angrier, Omar tried to change the subject with ad hominems and more Internet-derived wisdom. Sadly, this is all-too-often the response of unbelievers when confronted with the reality that their attempt to defend and live according to a worldview without God is to live in a windowless and doorless condo, in Absurdityville. And how does one make himself comfortable while locked in his home on Infinite Regress Avenue? It's simple and common: deny; dismiss; deflect; disdain.
While the conversation didn't go well, Omar was confronted with the reality he has always known: God exists, and he hates Him. For a moment, Omar was forced to deal with the reality of his self-imposed absurdity.
Much of American Evangelicalism would assert my encounter with Omar was a failure. After all, I didn't hear his whole story. I confronted him with truth. We didn't agree to disagree. And Omar may never join the "Christian" club. Yet my evangelistic efforts with Omar were anything but a failure. I stood on the truth of God's Word. I implored him to repent of his blasphemous idolatry (before parting company, Omar asserted he was god--not very Muslim of him). And Jorge, Andrew, and I prayed Omar would have no rest until the Holy Spirit convicted him of his sin and brought him to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
There are only two worldviews: the truth or all lies; the worship of the one, true God or all other forms of religious belief (i.e. Catholicism, Muhammadanism, Mormonism, Buddhism, Atheism, and every other man-made "ism"); submission to the Creator or worship of that which is created. Sadly, the vast majority of people in the world today are like Omar. They walk in darkness. They walk not in ignorance, but in willful rebellion against the God they know, whether they are numbered among aborigines living far removed from the modern world or they are among the academic elite sitting in their first-world ivory towers.
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.Omar couldn't account for truth while trying to live outside the Christian worldview. Neither can anyone else, be it the college student with only a semester of philosophy under his belt or the current pope of atheism, Richard Dawkins.
"Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen" (Romans 1:18-25).
Omar was right about something. Only the truth will set him free.
"So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, 'If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free'" (John 8:31-32).