"Saved and Drawing Interest"
Years ago as a student in a well-known Bible school, I was being trained to do evangelism. Efficient evangelism. Clean, neat, tidy evangelism. Because big busy streets were near-by and because the part of the city we were in was somewhat of a slum at the time, bums and beggars were our favorite targets for evangelism.
I was locked and loaded. I remember approaching one such bum and asking him, "Are you saved?"
He responded with a grin, "Sonny, I've been saved so many times I'm drawing interest!" and he gave a hearty laugh. Grimey face, but dancing eyes. I remember being stymied, a little insulted that this guy didn't know the stakes; that he'd toy with something as valuable as his eternal soul. But I've learned that a cheap question really does deserve a cheap answer.
That poor man's words came back to me recently as I was pondering exactly what is the gospel that Jesus announced, lived and died for and rose again to make a reality in this world.
What if I had approached the man with "Have you been loved?" Or, "Have you had a decent meal today?" Or, "Will you tell me your story?"
But, no. The man was not a person to me; he was a project; an assignment; a target. I had an evangelism model that allowed me to anonymously do a speedy Bible verse "hit and run" and swagger back to campus telling my friends that I had done it: "Shared the gospel."
Jaded by the undoubtedly numerous times he had been "hit on," the old bum had developed a sense of humor. "Save me again, Sonny. Get your assignment done. I know it's not about me, but about you and your obsession to 'win the world.' Skedaddle back to the school and fill out your report."
I wonder if when I face Jesus in the judgment, Jesus will point to an angel and say, "Remember, John, that Chicago bum with the really good sense of humor? That was him...there, the shining one. He really had a story to tell you. But you never asked."