Minnesota Undercover – Part Three
Tim D. McConnaughy Jr.
Jacob assured me he would be glad to help should the need arise.
“Thank you.” I told him feeling grateful for his help.
I still had questions I wanted to ask her. Did she have family in the area? Where was she headed to before we were forced to evacuate the airport? And none of us knew her name.
Jacob interrupted my thoughts. “So you’re a Christian?” he said directing his question to me. I sensed an air of disappointment in his voice.
“Yes I am,” I said. “But I need to clarify the word Christian because it means different things to different people.”
I wanted to clarify what I meant in detail but still wondered what he meant by saying he was more Jewish so I decided to ask. “I am curious about what you meant when you said you were more Jewish? More Jewish than what?”
Jacob seemed hesitant to answer. “Um, that’s a good question…..” he paused for a moment, then continued. “I believe in God from the Torah, but there are things in the Bible I don’t believe.” he said.
“Like what?” I quickly responded.
Traffic had been steadily crawling on the interstate for some time now, but at least we were moving—even if it was only about fifteen miles per hour.
Jacob continued. “Well, like the Messiah—Yeshua as mentioned in the New Testament. I don’t believe He has come yet despite what you probably believe.” he said. “The Jesus mentioned in the Bible makes outrageous claims about His deity which I just don’t see as possible. There are other things I don’t know but we can discuss them if we have time.”
Russell quickly spoke up. “Well to me all the religions are a load of bunk.” He said sounding irritated at the direction of the conversation. “Especially when they teach that if you’re not a follower of them you must be killed.”
I think I understood what he meant.
“Right,” I said. “According to one prophet’s teachings all the non believers called Kafirs must submit or die. I was getting the sense it was a good time to clarify what it meant to be a Christian, from a biblical context.
“There are a lot of man-centered religions out there with radically different teachings but did you know there is one doctrine they all share?” I asked hoping to keep the conversation focused.
“Oh yeah? What’s that?” Russell said sounding only slightly curious.
“None believe that Jesus is the one true God.” I said. At that, the men became like dead men in silence as if I had made the most shocking statement anyone had ever heard. “By the way, this ties in with the biblical meaning of a Christian.” I added.
Although I wasn’t sure how much more of this discussion the men would except or how much further the trip was to the hotel, I sensed it was time to get specific.
“Would you consider yourselves to be good people?” I asked.
I noticed Jacob nodded slightly while Russell seemed hesitant to respond at all. “I’m not perfect,” Russell said, “but I’ve been doing this work, like I said before, for 15 years and haven’t had to kill anybody—yet.
Yet? What’s he mean by that? I suddenly wondered if we needed to be concerned for our safety. Being trapped in a cold cab feeling soggy and wet only a few inches away from a maniacal driver with a weapon who dislikes Christians was not exactly how I envisioned my life ending.
Russell continued with a chuckle. “Does that count as a good person?”
I had almost forgotten the original question. Then I remembered it. I had asked if either of the men had considered themselves to be good people.
Although Russell’s answer about not killing anyone yet caused some uneasiness, what I was about to say I figured would cause even more, so I responded with a simple, “Okay.” and then continued. “Would you consider yourselves good enough to go to heaven?”
This time Jacob chimed in. “There are a lot of laws in the Torah but I say if a person does their best in this life hey, why not……and that’s of course assuming there really is a heaven.”
“Okay, assuming heaven is a real place how would you know if you were good enough to go there?” I said. “Or to put it another way, by what standard would you use to know if you were going to make it there after you die?” I wondered how long the men would let me ask questions like these without attempting to change the subject.
“I don’t think I like where this is going.” Russell said, shifting his whole body slightly. “What do you mean by standard? I figure if we do more good than bad, that’s good enough.” He said without much expression. I wanted to draw the men out so I continued.
“The Bible teaches that God is holy.” I said. “God is so holy in fact, sin cannot dwell in His presence. And not only is He holy but He is also perfect and just. We can see God’s perfection and holiness by looking at the Ten Commandments. Do you care if we take a quick test and look at a few of the commandments for a minute?” I hoped the men would agree.
I quickly glanced over to the girl next to me hoping she might join the conversation. She was looking down at her phone now. She appeared to be oblivious to anything or anyone around her. I continued asking questions using the Ten Commandments as a guide and hoped the men were still at least semi interested in where I was intending to go with all the questions.
“Have you ever lied, stolen, always put God first, and never used God’s name as a cuss word? I asked.
“Muhammad and Hitler’s name have not even been so hated as to use their names in vain. Ever lusted?” I told the men how Jesus had stated in Matthew 5 in the Bible that God considered lusting after another person the same as committing adultery in the heart. I wrapped up my Commandments test by saying that although we had looked at only a few of the commandments, if we were honest with ourselves, the test showed that no person could ever measure up to God’s perfect standard of requirements to enter heaven.
“But what about good religions that promote charity and helping the poor?” Russell shot back.
I understood what Russell might be getting at because I could think of many religions and religious organizations that promoted helping the poor and raising money for those in need. In fact, I had donated to some myself because it was the right thing to do. However, this kind of goodness, I told him, was according to human standards and not God’s.
“Good deeds are perfectly fine.” I said. “But they won’t get any of us to heaven because as the law shows, God requires perfection and holiness of the heart. And because God is just and knows our thoughts He cannot be bribed by doing good deeds.” I likened my point to being found guilty of committing a crime in a court of law on earth and trying to bribe a good judge.
“Do you think a good judge would let you off simply because you had done something good and tried to bribe him? Obviously this won’t work with him and how much more it cannot work with God.” I reasoned.
I explained how breaking God’s law is called sin and the law shows that everyone has sinned against God. I was grateful to God that the men were still apparently listening to my mini sermon.
“Now in an earthly court there is a punishment reserved for lawbreakers called prison and sometimes death. Similarly God has reserved a place of punishment for all sinners or lawbreakers. And this is where hell comes in.”
At this point I anticipated an almost certain objection from any one of the guys in the car and that’s exactly what I got.
“What about if I don’t believe in any punishment, hell or even in the God you’re talking about?” Russell countered.
“Good question, but that’s not up for debate because God says in Isaiah and other places in the Bible He is the one true God.” I said. “Of course we are each free to believe something else, but I am just conveying what God has spoken through His Word.”
I could sense through the momentary silence that Russell wasn’t satisfied with my response. I wanted to clarify my statements concerning God’s judgment so I took the opportunity.
“When we look at the carnage from terrorist attacks or see all the sickness, suffering and death this world is experiencing on a daily basis, do any of us ever ask God and wonder if God will deal with the evil and chaos that exists?” I said. “Hearing or watching the evening news with all the natural disasters, wars and terrorist related attacks on the rise should cause us all to see that something is radically wrong with the relationship between mankind and his Creator.” I said.
“You’re right about the carnage on the earth,” Jacob said, “and the sickness and suffering, that cannot be denied.”
I nodded in agreement. I further explained that Jesus even spoke about the reality and seriousness of hell, but because God is long suffering it is not His will that any person should perish. “So the real question is, if hell exists as Jesus claimed, is there any way of escape?” I asked.
Russell hedged in his seat again and cleared his throat. “If what you’re saying is true about how bad we are then how can anyone go to this place you call heaven?” I replied by telling him that as doing good deeds cannot get us to heaven, similarly there isn’t anything we could do to escape judgment in hell.
“The only way of escape would be for someone else who is perfect and without sin to save us from it—someone like God Himself. We need a Savior. But do you know how God paid the penalty for our sins?” I asked.
I was about to answer my own question when I heard the girl next to me respond. “Jesus.” She said softly with tears in her eyes.
“You’re exactly right!” I exclaimed with excitement. It made me happy she joined the conversation so I decided to draw her out a little more.
“Do you know what He did?” I asked.
She nodded slightly. “He’s God so He came to earth as a human being to die on a cross.”
“Right,” I said with a grin. Then I recited the scripture verse from Romans 5:8.
“God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” I continued talking with a renewed sense of purpose.
“God loves us so much He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die in our place a brutal death on a cross for us. Since Jesus was God manifest in the flesh, only He could pay the penalty for our sins.”
I finished by saying that God validated this work of Jesus’ sacrifice of paying the penalty for our breaking His Law by raising Jesus from the dead after three days. I told them both His death and resurrection were also predicted before the actual events and can be verified in various passages of the Bible such as Mark 10:34, Luke 18:33, and Isaiah 53.
To Be Continued…..Find out what happens next in Minnesota Undercover – Part Four
Minnesota Undercover is a work of fiction. With the exception of well-known historical figures and events, all names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents contained in this story are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.