The first time I saw Misty she was getting ready for a party. More clothes littered our dorm room floor than I had in my lone suitcase. Misty flashed a smile and sang out “Hey, roomie” over the throbbing beat of dance music. I was enchanted.
Misty was clever and captivating, everything I was not. Her sophistication was dazzling and I prayed that a little would rub off on me. When she told me that she was a Christian and invited me to church, I jumped at the chance.
God and I were politely acquainted. I stopped in to say hello on Easter and Christmas; perhaps checked in a couple more times during the year. Misty went nearly every week. Her spirituality attracted me like an oasis beckoning a thirsty traveller.
Then one afternoon I returned from class and there was a small statue sitting atop her stereo. Misty sat facing it, cross-legged, humming quietly with her eyes closed.
I quickly scanned my small mental file of Bible stories from childhood. This particular practice didn’t register. “I thought you were a Christian?”
She exhaled and opened her eyes. “There’s so much we can learn from other religions if we open ourselves up; so many paths to heaven. The God I believe in wants us to be spiritual beings.”
“But didn’t Pastor Joe preach last Sunday that Jesus is the only way? You know, the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father, except through him?”
“That might be true for Pastor Joe, but the God I believe in doesn’t discriminate. I can’t believe that God would keep anyone out of heaven. He’s the God of love.”
I confess that I liked her God of love. Over time I learned that the God she believed in was modern, cultured, urbane. He said ‘come as you are, and don’t change a thing’. He laughed at my jokes. He winked at my behavior. God didn’t care what I did as long as I was happy. I didn’t know Christianity could be so cool.
I was running late one day when I stumbled into Misty arguing with a guy we knew from English class. Misty rolled her eyes as Neil spoke, “. . . All I’m saying is that my roommate and I have had some great discussions about Christianity. He’s a good guy and I think some doors might be opening where I can share the gospel with him.”
“And I’m saying that we all worship the same God. We just call him different names. You need to be more tolerant, Neil. You need to respect people of other religions.”
“Respect others, yes. Absolutely. But I must respect the truth, too. Scripture tells us to stand firm and share the truth with gentleness and respect.”
Misty replied with an icy silence. Neil nodded a greeting at me, turned, and walked away. I had never heard anyone put it quite that way. I knew all about tolerance. I had tolerance by the boatload. I craved truth.
Misty leaned toward me and smirked, “I’ll bet I know what church he goes to. Can you believe those Jesus freaks? They’re so close-minded. I know God can’t stand them either. The God I believe in would never be so judgmental.”
“But, Misty,” I groped for words, feeling as though a bright light had just flicked on in a darkened room, “You taught me that everyone’s beliefs contain truth. So, don’t his too? Maybe we’re being judgmental?”
“No, he’s the narrow-minded one. I feel sorry for people like that. Forget it. Let’s go.”
Suddenly, the comfortable God I’d carefully constructed vanished. The oasis I thought I’d found turned out to be a mirage. Neil spoke of sharing truth. I had to find out what Misty was so afraid of. I worked up the nerve to call Neil and he invited me to a Bible study. The group was warm and welcoming, hardly the uptight puritans that Misty despised. They didn’t offer me tolerance. They gave me respect. Let’s just say that God and I got much better acquainted that term. I fell in love with his son.
As for Misty, apparently there were limits to tolerance. She continued collecting spiritual practices, but would never set foot in our Bible study. She found another roommate for the next semester; said we were incompatible. It seems there wasn’t enough room in her life for the God I believe in.
But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. - 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 NIV
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