The year was 1984. I was in my 2nd year at Moody Bible Institute. I was on one of my dreaded taxi cab rides back from O’Hare. Those rides were times of high anxiety. I didn’t know the city well and it seems the cars should have been taken out of service 10 years before. And while most drivers had little time to be chatty, this evening as I rode, I had a driver that seemed willing to talk.
I was headed to MBI, so it wasn’t long and the conversation drifted over to spiritual things. I shared my faith in Christ and time was running short. I knew in just a few weeks, Dr. Jerry Falwell would be speaking at the school. I seem to remember that it was a Founder’s Week session. Feeling confident that my driver friend would hear a clear presentation of the gospel, I invited him. I told him I would wait for him at the back of Torrey Grey auditorium.
That night, not knowing, but praying and hoping he would show, I waited. As the time got closer and my anxiety level was surging, he walked haltingly, hesitantly, through the door.
I greeted him, surprised that my prayers had been answered. I stammered a few words out and we made our way to the balcony. We found two seats and as the music started, I wondered if that night, this driver would become my brother in Christ. Finally, Dr. Falwell got up to speak. He gave some introductory comments. He talked about things that were happening in our culture.
And then he proffered the advice, “I won’t tell you how to vote, but vote for the Reagan of your choice.” My heart sank.
I didn’t have the courage to look directly at my invited guest. In those days my peripheral vision was a little more acute. I saw him slump into his seat. I saw his arms fold in front of him. The sermon of this political gospel continued as the crowd laughed and clapped in agreement.
As the last song was sung, my driver, my new friend and potential brother, slipped out without saying a word. I’m sure he felt tricked. I felt betrayed. It was the old bait and switch. Promise gospel and give them politics. Promise eternity and give them temporary solutions. Promise love and give conditions for acceptance. And I was an unwitting partner in the scheme.
I learned a lesson that day. It’s one I have to remind myself of often. We have one message – it’s the gospel of Jesus Christ. Nothing else will matter. On days when my opinions start to take center stage, I need to remember my taxi driver friend.
This morning, the Lord brought my friend to mind as I read:
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one- to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isa. 53:6).”
“Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities (Isa. 53:11).”
I hope that man at some point heard the gospel of grace and became my brother through faith in Our Savior. If I get to see him in heaven, I’ll ask him to forgive me for making it harder than it had to be. And there will probably be others I’ll need to talk to. Because there have been many times when the gospel has not been my first and loudest message.
What things do you hear Christians saying that make it harder to hear the gospel of grace?