The prophet Jeremiah penned God's accusations against the religious leaders of the day: "They offer superficial treatments for my people's mortal wound. They give assurances of peace when there is no peace" (Jeremiah 6:14). God doesn't tolerate his people turning away from the direness of others' spiritual state.
I had become so accustomed to Julie's need for Jesus that I became apathetic toward it. I was too busy laughing, drinking coffee, and simply enjoying her company to care. The sheer joy of relationship became more precious to me than the destiny of her soul. Perhaps these are harsh words, but they were the harsh reality of my heart.
The opportunity to ask Julie about her new Buddha slipped through my fingers even as God's finger pointed at my apathetic silence through the pages of Jeremiah. My brazen neglect eventually turned into a deep regret that brought stinging tears to my eyes and softened my hardened heart. It was all I could do to ask God to open my heart and see Julie the way he did.
Julie and I had a once-a-week ritual to head out for coffee while our kids were at preschool. Though it sometimes felt like a guilty pleasure, I saw it as "holy time"—a time for me to sprinkle bits of Jesus into our conversation.
One of those mornings, bound and determined to make the most of coffee time, I pointedly asked, "So we've talked a lot about faith. What is it you really believe?"
She admitted her faith system was confusing and muddled even to her, but she clearly told me she thought of Jesus as nothing more than a nice guy. It was the perfect opening … yet I mumbled a non-answer. To be honest, my words were so powerless I can't remember what I said. All I remember is that I excused my weakness, thinking, Don't offend her. We can cover the Jesus-is-the-only-way part another time.
The apostle Paul described his labor and struggle to bring everyone to Christ in the first chapter of Colossians. He poured out his love, his energy, even his sweat and blood to effectively share the hope and glory of Jesus. In contrast, I eked and dribbled Christ's love.
Frankly, all those spiritual conversations with Julie left me mentally and emotionally tired. Did I offend her sense of tolerance with "Jesus talk"? I'd wonder. Was there something I should have said, but left out? The murkiness of our spiritual conversations left me exhausted. I wanted a simple, clean, sterile relationship. The excuse of tolerance allowed me to have one.