They climbed into my car, ready for a day of exploring real estate. We exchanged pleasantries and introduced ourselves – I had never met them before. A couple from Los Angeles, looking to possibly buy a vacation home on this coast. She told me she was a screen writer. She named some of her work, which you would recognize. She’s a successful lady.
One of the very first questions out of their mouths was “There aren’t a lot of Christians in this town, are there?” I smiled, and said, “I think they are everywhere, actually.” To which they answered that they were looking for someplace that was “honest” and “intellectual”, not run by religious crazies. After all, they informed me, “there is nothing worse than having a Christian neighbor who invites you to church every week.”
As people, I really liked them. We laughed a lot. We enjoyed looking at homes. But the tirade against “backward, stupid Christians” continued for hours. They obviously felt very strongly about this. The Bible-believing ones, though…THOSE were the worst. I let them speak, told them that yes, Sarasota has Christians, but that as a town we are very diverse – conservatives and liberals, people from all over the globe, artist types and banking types…something for everyone. And it certainly is beautiful, isn’t it? I knew I was to simply keep my mouth shut, for the moment.
They took me to lunch, and after we ordered, he looked at me and said “Well, what about you? Where do you stand on all the politics and religion?”
Looking them in the eye, I said “I am one of those Bible-believing, Jesus-loving Christians.”
And they laughed hysterically until they saw that I was serious. Then I saw the look on their face change slowly. I literally saw them replaying in their heads everything they had said for the last 4 hours.
“Why didn’t you say something?” they asked.
I explained that I was not there to fight to with them about faith. I was there to show them Sarasota, and to help them with a real estate purchase.
Then I shared that although they didn’t believe the Bible, as they were speaking all morning I was remembering some very specific words of Jesus.
“Bless those who hate you.”
And that’s what I was doing.
Stunned, they were silent. Then she said to me “If I were you, I wouldn’t even be speaking to me right now. But if you don’t mind, I would really like to hear WHY you believe what you believe. Because I truly don’t understand it”.
And that was the day the Lord gave me the opportunity to speak the Gospel freely to two people who never would have listened to me otherwise. They asked questions. They listened to my stories. When we parted ways, they thanked me and said “For the rest of our lives. we’ll never hear the word ‘Christian’ again, without remembering you. You’ve changed our perspective in a lot of ways”.
That was it. I never heard from them again. I don’t know if they decided against Sarasota, or didn’t want to work with me. But in much of the vitriol of the last months, I have been thinking of them again. So full of hate…yet really just never having met someone who didn’t fire back with the same emotion.
I know you are used to my stories ending in miracles. But that was the end, at least of my part. I pray that our encounter cracked the door a bit – and that in the years since maybe others have pushed it open just a little bit more.
Jesus works in very uncomfortable places.
He breaks down walls with a breath that we couldn’t take down with a jackhammer.
I can tell you this – as long as we look and act like the world…as long as we fight, argue, get offended and distance ourselves from those who hate us – we get nowhere.
I choose to believe a miracle DID happen that day.
And I hope to see them again when we meet Him together.
Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and they should glorify your Father in the heavens.