You know how sometimes things pop into your head regarding events that happened in the past for no apparent reason? Well today I thought of something that had happened to a co-worker friend of mine about 8 years ago that involved a near-death experience for my coworker and a zealous Christian.
My coworker friend, Charlie, was a hard man. He was around 58 years old or so. He had gone through around 4 or 5 wives, cussed constantly, and although rarely “visibly” drunk, he drank a little almost all day.
Now I’m not talking about the kind of 50-ish motorcycle rider you see now days where they put on their stick-on tattoos, dress up in their outlandish leather outfits, almost like it’s a Halloween costume, and get together with all of their friends on a ride to go off and “kill” a stack of pancakes 100 miles away.
Charlie rode nothing else other than an old mid 70’s BMW. He rode it in the rain, cold, heat, rode it to work, and on dates. He wore an old wore out leather jacket, helmet, leather boots and jeans.
In his 58 years, most of it riding motorcycles, Charlie had never been down on the pavement while riding. I don’t know everyone who rides a motorcycle, but of the people I know who ride, this is rare. I think that everyone I know who rides a bike has had at least a little wreck. But not Charlie.
Well, one day Charlie didn’t show up for work, which wasn’t rare, as he was a drinker. Then another day went by. Then another. All the while our boss was calling his cell phone with no answer.
After a week went by, Charlie’s son called in to work and said he’d been in a serious motorcycle accident and was in the hospital. He’d been unconscious for around 3 or 4 days and was just now aware of what was going on.
After about 3 weeks Charlie came back to work with lots of skin missing, a broken wrist, and barely able to walk. But he was there ready to work. Once he got back he related what had happened to us.
Charlie had been going around a long sweeping curved overpass and took the curve a little too fast, got too close to the outer guard rail and hit some gravel and debris and down he went. He, of course, had been drinking and was going around 60 mph or so. He had flipped, tumbled, and skidded on the pavement but miraculously nothing other that his wrist or hand was broken. (Believe it or not the cops never checked to see if he had been drinking and got away with it.)
As soon as he came to a stop after skidding nearly 100 feet he was unconscious. He awoke with someone opening his faceshield on his helmet frantically wanting to know if he was a “believer”.
Charlie was in serious pain and had a concussion, broken wrist, and very little skin left on his legs. He was crying out in pain, but this well-meaning Christian was demanding to know if Charlie was a “believer”. Charlie said he didn’t know what the [heck] he was talking about but he told him to get out of his face and call an ambulance.
This Christian man wouldn’t leave him until he knew whether Charlie was a “believer” because he didn’t want Charlie to die and go to hell. If Charlie would repeat a prayer then he would leave and call an ambulance. With all the strength Charlie could muster, Charlie told him to “Get the f*&% out of my face!” By then other people were beginning to stop and help and this Christian was pushed aside.
Charlie went on to tell me how stupid you “born againers” are that you wouldn’t even get him an ambulance but you kept wanting him to repeat a prayer. He went on to tell me how we didn’t really care about people we just wanted “numbers”. I told him he was wrong, but inside I knew in some way he was right.
This Christian man trying to do a “deathbed conversion” on Charlie was well-meaning, but he has a false understanding of the gospel. I’m aware that among the two thieves on the cross, one was converted instantly. But there’s a big difference between Charlie’s experience and the thief that hung next to Jesus…..
The thief came to know Jesus as the innocent Lamb of God who was suffering for our sins. Charlie wasn’t introduced to that Jesus.
After I thought about this past event this morning I couldn’t help but wonder how much stuff we Christians do that cause people to see our hypocrisy. How many activities we engage in that appear more like clever marketing tactics rather that actually caring for people.
As I’ve spent the last 9 months or so looking for a church, I’m afraid. I’m afraid because most of what I see in the churches I’ve investigated is nothing more than clever worldly marketing tactics rather someone who actually cares about people enough to tell them about the suffering Messiah who hung on a cross and took the punishment we rightly deserved.
The gospel must come first. When it pierces their heart they’ll want nothing else than to cry out to God for salvation.
The bible doesn’t say that “Repeating words is the power unto salvation”.