My dentist examined my teeth and then inquired about my husband, who is also his dental patient. When I said we were happy that Brad's cancer is in remission, the dentist rapped his knuckles on the counter and said, "Knock on wood." I think this doctor is scared to death of death.
I see a similar scenario repeated in other unbelievers who cross my path. There is the young acquaintance who probably smokes and drinks too much in order to cope with the serious illness of a close relative. Other people can't handle living in a fallen world and only want to be around successful, upbeat friends who make jokes about death and hell. All around me, I sense the pain and burdens of those without Christ.
Much of the time, I am too distracted with my own problems or those of hurting church members to make an effort to reach out to unbelievers. Then, I realize that God allows these people to know me. These are divine appointments, and my life has the potential to show forth the only gospel that those around me encounter.
What could I put on the agenda that would make the most of these God-given moments?
1) Recognize the everyday opportunities that God gives me to shine my light in a dark world. When I see the same people on a regular basis, I can know that God wants them there for a reason.
2) Cultivate Christian disciplines like honesty and patience. These character traits will point others to the perfect, trustworthy example, Jesus Christ.
3) Sacrifice time to minister to others when they are hurting. Look beyond self-sufficient exteriors, and see the real need to be forgiven and be put right with God.
4) Show that I am different because Jesus has changed me. Especially when I face difficult situations, demonstrate that I have everlasting peace and hope in the eternal God, who does not disappoint.
5) Leave non-Christians with a bit of the gospel, in word or in deed. There is more power in truth than in empty platitudes.
6) Think of appropriate, meaningful ways to reach out to others. For example, promise to pray for them when they tell me of a crisis they are facing or give acquaintances a book, such as The Reason for God, when they confide that they feel that something is missing from their lives.
As I observe unbelievers, I don't know how I could face adversity and discouragement without the Holy Spirit to give me peace and comfort. His help gives me enthusiasm to embrace divine appointments as life-saving opportunities. "Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death." John 8:51.