This morning I had coffee with 2 new friends in a coffee shop in Rockford, Illinois. When I entered the shop, I had a couple of books with me to read, one of them Reviving Evangelical Ethics, and the other was the latest Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. I ordered my coffee and then sat my books down on a table nearby, noticing in my peripheral vision a Christian doing a Bible study at a table near mine. He also saw what I was reading and took note, but neither of us said anything to each other.
Soon after, the first of my friends arrived and we had a great discussion about women's ministry and Christian education over a muffin and a couple of creamy lattes. The man I had noticed doing a Bible study was replaced by another person with another Bible doing the same thing. It was a little bit disorienting to see so much of God at a coffee shop in Rockford. It was no less than thrilling to have this new person interject in our conversation about women's ministry and possible speakers for upcoming seminars. Had I died and gone to Heaven? Is Rockford, perhaps, the new earth that we are all awaiting?
As I said goodbye to the friend with whom I conversed about women's ministry, I decided to stay and chat with my new friend, RT, who previously had suggested we check out John Piper as a women's ministry speaker. We briefly touched on several areas of interest to those in ministry including the emergent church, gimmicks of the seeker driven churches, how to reach youth, the power of the Gospel and how women can and do serve God. It was so exciting to hear so much passion and zeal for Christ and the work of ministry. Before I left, he even prayed for the blessing of our encounter and how God might continue to be glorified in our ministries.
Nothing about this morning was what I consider to be normal, but it is exactly what we should expect. When we advocate for living out our faith and encourage the development of a Christian worldview, isn't this exactly what we should be looking forward to? We're so predisposed to a world where God-talk is not the norm, where expressions of faith are mere whispers, and Bibles are hidden in our laps. We look around to see if anyone is offended by what we can't help to display or speak aloud. We wonder if our faith made public is a stumbling block to the world. What is wrong with this picture?
I learned a lot today about the proclamation of the Gospel, about being bold about my faith and about who I follow. The thing is, I know better. I'm all about a theology and apologetic that is, well, unapologetic. I am experiencing pure joy about being further liberated from my cultural captivity. God-talk should be a normal activity of living out our faith, no shame should accompany us, no fear should drive us.
Jesus said, "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you." (John 15:18) We shouldn't be surprised by a rejection of our expressions of faith and we should not suppress them for fear of rejection or hate. In this coffee shop, the Gospel was clearly presented for anyone who could hear and truly is the power of God unto salvation. We have no way of knowing for sure if anyone who heard had an encounter with God, but one thing we know for sure is that what is silenced cannot be heard.