We met a man named Jose at the park on Thursday. He said that he was not a follower of Christ but that he believed in God. Then he proceeded to list the many problems he was facing in his life. He owed thousands of dollars in back child support for children he had sired through various women. He’d had his license pulled as a penalty for non payment so getting to work to earn the money had become much harder. His “old lady” was suffering from congestive heart failure at the age of 50 and could not work very much to support the both of them and to help pay off his child support. He was at the park to allow her time to sleep since she needed to do that a lot. Jose, like most people we meet, believed himself to be basically a good person, citing the nice things he’d done for people recently and how he had stopped dealing drugs.
I shared with him that being good or not wasn’t the point and that his financial woes were not his problem. He has one problem, that he’s not fulfilling his purpose to serve and worship God. Good deeds without reference God would not fulfill that purpose nor would they undo the evil he had committed and caused in the world.
To illustrate, I pointed to the nearly empty plastic water bottle that he was holding and said, “That bottle has a purpose, to hold water. What are you going to do with it when the water is gone?”
He responded, “I don’t know…refill it maybe?”
That wasn’t the answer I expected but I rolled with it. “You could do that, but most people would probably throw it away, right?”
“Yeah, I suppose.” He replied.
“Did you know that the word that Jesus used for “hell” referred to the valley outside of Jerusalem where the trash was burned? We were all made to live our lives for God. If we don’t, we become an empty water bottle useful for nothing but to be burned on a trash heap. Those who turn to God and are cleansed by Jesus, become useful again. When Christ returns, he’ll collect the useful vessels into his house and burn up those that are worthless.” I said in not so many words.
“I just have a lot of problems right now.” was his reply.
“Where is your water bottle?” I asked him.
“In the trash.”
“You just have one problem.”