There’s a time and place to have the “Do you know Jesus?” conversation and during a shift at work is not one of them. He had been a repeat customer, this was his third visit. Ahead of him was woman – both were quite free discussing matters of faith. “Praise the Lord!” “I’ll be praying for her.” That sort of thing. That was fine with me, better that they speak with each other than me. Then my luck ran out as the woman left and it was his turn at the register. Turns out the man had just attended a revival meeting and had felt the Holy Spirit move him to speak. Still on that spiritual high, he opted to ask me the question, “do you know Jesus?”
“Yeah, sort of.” I said. Which was true. I know the Jesus that Christianity teaches – whether or not that’s a reasonable facsimile of the real thing is anyone’s guess. It’s not like Jesus and I can go to catch a movie together, stop by the store to pick up some groceries, and take a walk through the park discussing the finer points of theology. Jesus, to me, is an ideal (in the sense of a concept) of spiritual perfection. Perhaps that’s due to the WWJD? bracelet trend that was popular when I was a kid. The question: “What would Jesus do?” was meant to help us consider Jesus’ example as our guide. I also know Jesus’ story, born of the virgin Mary, adopted by Joseph, lived in Nazareth, Magi / wise men and shepherds were there to play their part; then his public ministry, his arrest, his trial, his death and Resurrection followed by his ascension . Could there have been a historical Jesus who really did exist? Sure, why not? Jesus is a variant of Joshua, which was an exceedingly popular name. I also know that my church wouldn’t have baptized me as a kid if my faith weren’t sincere – so I know Jesus as my savior also. But in many ways, I’m that kid anymore and I’ve grown up, changed, and become a whole other person.
“Sort of? Once you’ve been saved you’re always saved. Just like Jesus told the woman caught in adultery, ‘go and sin no more.'” He began.
Of all the Bible references to chose to bring up, why that one? I don’t think I look like an adulteress. Should I take it as a compliment? Though there is a footnote in most Bibles that the entire story was a late addition, few early manuscripts happen to include the tale. Make of that what you will.
“Do you go to church? You’re always welcome at mine.” He added.
“It isn’t Baptist is it?” I asked. Eighty percent of the churches in this county are Southern Baptist – which I’ve promised myself to avoid if it’s at all humanly possible. I don’t like Southern Baptist Churches because I used to attend them and I found them lacking. As far as guesses go, it’s usually correct.
“No, I attend a Pentecostal church way over in the city.” He answered.
That’s the other downside to this area, you have to drive to either of the local big cities to have any decent choices of churches – and that’s a forty-five minute drive in either direction. Been there, done that and I’m not about to start that commute all over again. Besides, I don’t know anything about Pentecostalism. The only thing I had heard about them was the time one of my friends had attended a service only to be branded a sinner when she couldn’t speak in tongues.
“I appreciate the offer, you’ve given me a lot to think over.” I said. I meant it, sort of. But mostly I just needed out of the ill-timed and awkwardly-placed conversation – after all, I was working and had a lot of my plate. I guess I had accepted my lot as a millennial to be on the outs with religion. After all the issues I’ve had with the Baptist brand of Evangelicalism, I’m not sure I’m ready to give the Pentecostal flavor of Evangelicalism a try. Odds are it won’t be the last conversation that goes like that – but it’s not in me to tell people what they want to hear. (Though it would be far easier if it were.)