Why come to N. Ireland to study?
You're American. I don't trust you.
You're a cult. Are you trying to convert us?
I don't believe in God.
There are no absolutes.
You're an empire builder.
I've been preached at for 40 years.
My uncle was blown to bits by a catholic bomb.
There is no God.
These were just a few notable lines from a conversation last night at the pub.
The initial conversation started when a nice gentlemen realized that the group of us were American and began to ask us about why we were here. It is often something we are asked at the pub because we sound very different. It is often assumed we are tourists. When we explain we are theology students, the conversation either ends, or it becomes very interesting.
A few things need to be noted. It is often difficult for me to engage in real conversations at the pub because often times the conversation occurs with people who are noticeably drunk and slurring words at times. I was reminded last night though by a good friend, that we should never tire of having the opportunity to speak the life of the gospel when we can and this is no different. I have to trust that if I remain faithful to the gospel, that it's not the words I speak that makes a difference. I've never had someone accept Jesus after having just lost an argument.
I sincerely enjoyed the conversation with S last night and I hope that a light of hope reached into the depths of his cynical soul. After the initial hostility to our French Englishman, S opened up and we had a very good conversation about his life, his history, America, cults, and his job working with disabled people.
I am convinced more now than ever before, that the historical realms of western Christianity are long lost to cynicism, relativism, and general disdain. The countrysides are dotted with spectacular churches that are empty. The culture is so entrenched with a scope of Christianity that is contrary to the gospels and it sits as a fragment of a deconstructed moral society.
This is why I love theology. This is why I study the things I do. Christianity needs a resurgence in practical grace. The Holy Spirit is doing work, it's our job to participate with what God is already doing. To be Christ existing as community for the sake of the other is our call. Are we ready? Can we do it?
After last night, I raise my glass to S. Cheers.