Sunday, February 25, 2018

A Gospel Story in a McDonald's: Sharing the Good News of Jesus with Each Other


I had never been invited into the lives of so many people as I was at this McDonald's. + David Fitch


In Federick Buechner's Secrets in the Dark, he says,

Jesus calls us to see that no matter how ordinary it may seem to us as we live it, life is extraordinary. 'The Kingdom of God is at hand' is the way He put it, and the way He tells us to put it to others. Life even at its most monotonous and backbreaking and heart-numbing has the Kingdom buried in it the way a field has treasure buried in it, Jesus said. 

Below is an excerpt from David Fitch's Faithful Presence that provides an every day example of how the Good News of Jesus can infiltrate our conversations with others as we discover His Kingdom in each of our lives revealed like a hidden treasure:

Several years ago I started going to a McDonald's in my neighborhood. There, early in the morning, I would drink coffee, grade papers, do research, have meetings, etc. A friend eventually challenged me to see this local McDonald's as the arena of God's Spirit at work. I was challenged to see this place as a vibrant arena where God was truly present. I was exhorted to enter this place peacefully and be present with every person who came my way, pay attention to all that was going on around me, and tend to God's presence here. For a few hours in the morning, I started to do that regularly. 
As time went on I started to meet an array of people in surprising conversations. I got to know people struggling to hold on a job, abused by a spouse, or mistreated by police. I got to know some police themselves. I shared tables regularly with people who lived in cars and vans. I became enmeshed in a network where God was working in people's lives, and I was swept up into it. I had never been invited into the lives of so many people as I was at this McDonald's. We encountered God together. I found myself joined with people in prayer, reconciliation, healing, and proclaiming the hope of the gospel. I became a participant in God's work. I was learning how to be faithfully present to his presence. I was catching a glimpse of what faithful presence might look like in the world. ... 
One time I was sitting in my booth at McDonald's grading some papers when John slipped into the booth across the table from me. I was sharing tables with many friends for over five years. John had been without a home for over three years. I had known him for at least two of those years. As we drank coffee together across from each other, my attention turned to his face. Something was stressing him deeply. Eventually John shared. It was Christmas time, and it was going to be one more year of not seeing his children. John said hadn't seen his children in ten years. The stories of John's broken past with his children came out, and it extended to his other family members and his ex-wife. He felt isolated; he was not even allowed by his brother to stay over at his mother's house. John's broken relationships had spread beyond his family as well. He was mad at a friend for not being paid on a job he did for him. He was mad at another friend for calling him out at a PADS shelter, and now he was banned from sleeping there.  
A moment came where I felt led to say something like, "John, I believe God would have you reconcile with your family, beginning with your children and your ex-wife. What do you think?" John replied, "That will never happen. You don't understand. My wife hates me. She and her husband have banned me from the kids. If I approached her, she would get violent, swear a blue streak, and have the police arrest me." Slowly he unraveled the tales of twisted lives enmeshed in hate and vengeance. But finally I quoted 2 Corinthians 5:19-20 and said that even in the midst of this mess God is working to reconcile him and his ex-wife and children. "Can you cooperate with him? Let him work?" I asked. "But she'll yell and scream!" "John," I said, "I believe Jesus is Lord, and he wants to overcome all that and heal these broken relationships. I've experienced it and believe it is true of you as well. Can you receive that for your life too?" John said yes. 
We slowly worked out next steps. John became convinced his first step was to write a repentant letter seeking forgiveness from his wife and kids. The constant question was, how can we invite the presence of Jesus into these reconciliations? It started a string of developments in John's life. He started inviting Jesus into other reconciliations. I saw antagonisms gradually start to unwind in his life. It took a while, but John reported to me a year later that he was visiting the kids, that his ex-wife and he were talking. A year later, I was surprised to learn he got employment. Everyone else in McDonald's said it would never happen. Slowly, all around John, God started to heal the world around him.

Praying for and Enjoying Spiritual Conversations with Friends in Your Life

When we realize all of who Jesus is and all that He's done for us, much like other exciting events and people we experience in life, we want to share about Him with our friends, but don't know where to begin.

| 1 | Prayer: Taking one minute to pray and ask God who are two friends that He wants you to be open to talking to and how you might continue to pray for them and grow your friendship.

Consideration: Ask Jesus to help you pray each day for these two friends.

For an example of how to step into the spiritual conversations God gives you with friends, Intervarsity provides helpful considerations and questions as you walk with others and consider where God may be leading them next:

| 2 | Curiosity: When a friend has some questions about faith, but it's not personal for them.

Consideration: Ask introductory questions about views of God and spirituality. No defenses or debates, just thoughtful inquiry.

| 3 | Open: When a friend becomes aware of their emotional and spiritual needs and wonders if there is a God who can meet their spiritual needs.

Consideration: Ask how they might want to grow spiritually and how God might help their growth. Offer to pray with them for this growth.

| 4 | Seeking: When a friend is open to exploring Jesus but are not sure how to seek Jesus for answers.

Consideration: Help them focus in their journey and ask something like: "If you could ask Jesus one honest question that would help you trust Him, what would you ask?"

| 5 | Follower: When a friend has been looking into Jesus, who He is, what He promised, etc., and is considering becoming a follower of Him.

Consideration: Ask: "Can I share with you how someone becomes a follower of Jesus?" Share the Good News that God, through Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, is restoring everything sin ruined, and invite your friend to put their trust in Jesus to begin following Him.

If we only had eyes to see and ears to hear and wits to understand, we would know that the Kingdom of God in the sense of holiness, goodness, beauty is as close as breathing and is crying out to be born within ourselves and within the world; we would know that the Kingdom of God is what we all of us hunger for above all other things even when we don't know its name or realize that it's what we're starving to death for. The Kingdom of God is where our best dreams come from and our truest prayers. We catch sight of it when at some moment of crisis a strength seems to come to us that is greater than our own strength. The Kingdom of God is where we belong. It is home, and whether we realize it or not, I think we are all of us homesick for it. + Frederick Buechner, Secrets in the Dark

Next post: A Gospel Story with a Refugee Family: Sharing the Good News of Jesus with Each Other

Christ is all,

Rev. Mike "Sully" Sullivan

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