“I bet you guys are starved,” I said with a smile to the two teenage students who had joined us for supper.
“It smells so good,” Caleb exclaimed. He had a deal with Pedro—whenever he needed to escape the dorm, all he had to do was ask and we’d invite him over for a home-cooked meal and an hour of loud music (Christian, of course—Pedro wanted to introduce him to some alternative artists outside of Caleb’s regular fare of hip-hop and rap). Each time he came over, Caleb got to bring a guest.
“Way better than cafeteria food,” Caleb’s guest, Ernesto, chimed in.
“It’s still vegetarian,” I cautioned them. “I had short notice that you guys would be coming over, and I didn’t have time to run to the store for meat.
“It’s o.k., Mrs. Ojeda,” Caleb assured me. “I love your tacos.”
The two boys settled down to consume tacos at an alarming rate whilst Pedro chatted with our third guest, Terry, about a project he was working on for our non-profit school.
During a lull in conversation, Caleb turned to Terry and asked, “Hey, have you tried this hot sauce?” He held out a bottle Dave’s Ghost Pepper sauce—his favorite from Pedro’s extensive collection. “The stuff is so hot, you have to serve it with a toothpick!”
“I haven’t tried that one,” Terry answered as he took the bottle and inspected it.
Caleb handed him the toothpick holder and grinned. “It’s awesome, you have to try it.”
Terry dipped the toothpick in and applied a small drop to the already spicy taco ‘meat.’ “Wow! That IS hot,” he exclaimed. The boys laughed and then Terry asked them a bit about school before returning to his conversation with Pedro.
After I served dessert, I heard Caleb say in a quiet voice, “That guy directs movies,” as he nodded his head towards Terry.
“Dude, no way,” Ernesto replied.
“No, really. He worked on the first Terminator movie back in the day, and now he directs movies.” Caleb assured him.
Ernesto shook his head in disbelief. After all, he’d seen Terry around campus with a digital DSLR shooting photos of students and interacting with others like a ‘normal’ person.
“If you don’t believe me, ask him,” Caleb challenged him.
“Hey, Terry,” Ernesto said, “Do you make movies?”
“I do,” Terry replied. Ernesto still didn’t look convinced, so Terry pulled out his smartphone, opened an app and asked, “Have you heard of IMDb?”
Ernesto nodded. “It’s got all the movie star stuff on it, right?”
Terry handed his phone to Ernesto and said, “Type my name in there and read for your self.” He grinned and helped the boys with the spelling of his name and then chatted with Pedro some more.
The boys read through the IMDb page and Ernesto discovered that Terry was indeed who Caleb claimed he was—a guy who’d worked on Terminator and now directed movies.
This incident made me think about how incredulous we are today and where we seek affirmation of information. I’ve actually heard the pastor tell a story during a sermon, felt a moment of incredulity, and pulled out my iPhone to look up his story illustration on snopes.com to see if it’s true.
More and more, we rely on the Internet as the source for information to deny or confirm the truth. How does this affect our ability to witness to people? After all, God doesn’t have a webpage or a listing on IMDb. He doesn’t have a twitter account, Instagram or Facebook fan page.
My parents raised me in a Christian home and I grew up listening to Bible stories at bedtime. Sure, I’ve had my moments of doubt, but I can point out how my relationship with God has shaped my life and made me a better person each step of my journey.
But what about kids who grow up not knowing about God, or that Christmas is actually a celebration of the Christ and that Easter isn’t about a bunny? How will their questions of incredulity be answered?
How do we back up our claims that God’s not dead and that he has a deep personal interest in each and every person on earth?
One church I know of decided to mail a free book about salvation to everyone in the city of San Francisco in the hopes of ‘bringing Jesus’ to the masses. Their plan backfired. They garnered a lot of negative publicity on social media from people who didn’t appreciate the implied condemnation of the well-intentioned act. The answer is simple, yet more complex than we’d like to admit.It starts with us. We are God’s IMDb. Click To Tweet
If we claim to be a Christian, we need to make sure we represent the Christ. Our testimony needs to be personal and personable. We have to spend time reading the Bible and praying to understand the character of God. And then we need to ask for the strength to live like we believe.
Next, we need to take a deep, personal interest people. We need to get to know them as individuals—invite them into our homes and spend time getting to know them. In a world full of incredulous people, mass-market mailings equal spam—and we don’t want God’s message of love lost in a spam folder. Click To Tweet
I challenge you to dig deeper into God’s word, to get to know him better. I challenge you to look around at your friends and acquaintances and pray for wisdom as you deepen your friendships and strive to represent and live God’s love.