In my second to last semester of college, I took a public administration course. The course centered on equipping students with the necessary skills needed for successful careers in public service and nonprofit organizations. Notice carefully that nowhere in my brief description (or the school’s, for that matter) do you see the word religion. And that is because the course had absolutely nothing to do with religion. However, one day religion—God, specifically—was mentioned, and that mentioning left one student very upset.
“You shouldn’t talk about that stuff,” the brown-skinned, petite, curly-haired girl, whom we’ll call “Shawna,” said. “Everybody doesn’t believe in that.”
Although I’d heard her comment loud and clearly, and the graduate assistant’s comments about God watching (she was teasing a student before our exam started), I’d never related them to each other (since others were also talking), so I didn’t know her upset was about God being mentioned.
Later on that day, though, I was informed, when a few of my classmates from public administration and I went to meet with another teacher from our department (we were political science students. The public administration course was an elective). For some reason, unknown to me now, during our meeting, the subject of “Shawna’s” comment came up (a girl named “Jazz” brought it up). I remember her saying something to the effect of (it’s been years now), “When that girl got upset about God, saying some people don’t believe in that stuff, I wanted to move. I wasn’t about to fail [the test] because of her.” I responded, “Is that why she was so mad? Well, I don’t wanna sit by her either.”
Boy, did we feel like “good Christians” in that moment. Shoot, we were standing with God and wouldn’t even be around those who were not. That stance would make God proud of us, wouldn’t it? After all, He doesn’t want us “talking to” the wicked. Right?
Although we are admonished, several times, in the Bible to not yoke ourselves with unbelievers (not always in the same wording), we are called to share, which includes conversing, God’s love and message of the cross with all (and that doesn’t mean forming “bestie-like” relationships). This is something God began impressing upon my heart during my time of self-righteousness. He wanted me to not despise this young lady, but to share His love with her, in spite of her feelings about Him (which probably arose from misconceptions and wrong perceptions).
The next semester (my last), “Shawna” and I had another class together. At some point during our first days in there, I’d overheard her saying she didn’t have enough money to buy the book we needed for that class. Well, one day, while in the bookstore getting my books for the semester, I ran into an old classmate, who saw me with the book for the class in my hand. He said, “You don’t have to buy that book. I have one I can give you.” I said, “Okay.” However, I still felt led to buy the book, so I did.
The next time I saw “Will” he had the book for me, so I took it. Upon taking it, I could sense God leading me to give the new book to “Shawna” (her words, I have no money for a book, kept playing over and over in my mind), and I’d keep “Will’s” book. So, I told myself that the next time I went to class I was going to give her the book. But that all changed when I walked into the classroom and saw her talking to some people at her table. Instead of interrupting them, I decided to keep straight to my table. I had no peace about that decision, though; I was supposed to give her the book. In spite of what I knew to be right, however, I didn’t get back up to give it to her. (Honestly, I didn’t know how to or what to say.) Long story short (I know it’s been pretty long already!), I ended up asking another girl I knew that also needed a book if she wanted it… and gave it to her. Sigh.
Talk about conviction!
I felt so awful for disobeying God, that the next time we had class and I saw “Shawna” alone, I went to her and asked her if she’d ever gotten a book (because if she hadn’t, I was going to go and buy her one). She told me she had. She’d found a cheap one online.
Sisters, it took me a long time to get over my disobedient actions; and, to this day, when it comes to mind, I still feel awful about it. My obedience to God had the potential to bring a soul to God. It could have made the difference between life and death for someone. I don’t know whatever happened to “Shawna,” or the outcome of her story, but my prayer is that someone has led her to Christ.
I’m telling you this story today, sisters, to remind you, firstly, to always obey God. He has a reason behind every task or command He gives you to do. Secondly, I want you to know that all are invited to feast at God’s table (although all won’t accept the invitation). We don’t get to pick and choose who has a spot at the table and who doesn’t, or who is good enough and who isn’t. We are simply disciples who’ve been commissioned by God to bring others into His Kingdom.
In John 3:16, Jesus tells us of His Father, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The message of God’s love and grace has been extended to all, to whosoever believeth.
God’s desire is that none should perish (although He knows many will, as they have, because of their refusal to believe), but that all will come to saving faith in Him. We see this truth in Ezekiel 33:11 and also in 2 Peter 3:9. In Ezekiel 33:11, God says, “As I live, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” Second Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
In the same way that God desires to see people come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved, so should we as His followers. Let us not be content in “self-righteousness,” “selective discipleship,” and/or “selective membership,” but in the truth of God’s Word, which tells us that all can be saved (no matter their background), if they will only believe.