(Yes, this is similar to yesterday’s post, but this was written months ago. It has a slightly different spin. TEW.)
The Road to Emmaus is one of my favorite Gospel stories because it shows a Jesus that is masterful at reaching people. First, when He comes upon those walking on the road, He asks them what they are talking about and then asks them to explain. How often are we too eager to just start talking at people when we feel they need to hear what we have to say? Jesus offers an invitation for them to share first. Allowing them to share first opens them up for what Jesus will do next.
Second, Jesus takes time to interpret for them the words of the Prophets. He gave them their turn and now it is his. Not only wise, but a movement of respect. After a long walk, they invite Jesus stay with them and dine. Third and finally, Jesus breaks bread with them and they are able to see that he is no ordinary traveler. He is the Risen One. He could have just told them who he was, but allowing them by their experience, to uncover who he was had the greater impact.
Jesus demonstrated to us in these actions how to be gracious and impactful when sharing the Good News. If we are to be good stewards and fruitful disciples then we must imitate Him in this regard. This Easter season let us practice the following: 1) Allow others first to share what they have to say; 2) Then be willing to take the time to explain fully or to the best of our ability our faith; and 3) Help others find a way to experience first-hand the message you have shared. No one can understand love without witnessing love. In this way, your words and deeds will become a pathway to Jesus for others.
My wife and I had a late work day last week, so I decided to swing by a drive-thru and grab a sandwich for dinner. In front of me was a car with roughly 20 bumper stickers on the back. Some of the stickers didn’t make sense to me, but most of them were related to MMO video games that I am familiar with. The young man in the car was a little unkempt and I imagined he probably spent a good amount of time behind the computer with headphones on. Admittedly my mind went to gamer stereotypes, which are mostly untrue, but still embedded in pop culture.
When it was my turn to pay for my order, the woman at the window said, “The driver in front of you paid for your meal. Have a great day.” She handed me the receipt and something that looked like a coupon. Distracted by the driver’s kindness, I paid no attention to it and put it on the seat next to me.
I was thankful he pulled to the side so I could wave to him, but then the young man stepped out of his car, came to my window and said while pointing at the coupon, “God bless you, sir, did you get our invitation?” I picked it up and saw that it was an invitation to his church. I replied, “Thank you for inviting me and thank you for dinner!”
This was heartening to me. It was marketing of course, brilliant marketing in fact. But this young man, who I had pegged (wrongly) to be one type, believed in his church and faith so much that he was willing to buy a stranger dinner and invite him to the place that gives him hope. I have no idea what fruit in terms of visitors such a campaign will have – and of course, I won’t attend because I have a church that I love and that gives me hope.
Do you feel the same? Maybe we should try it. You never know what might happen when you buy a stranger dinner.*
*see Luke 24