There is this guy who grew up in a rough home. To write ‘rough’ would be an understatement. He was beaten by his father, largely ignored by his mother. Even when his father left he was still a distant shadow to the woman who gave birth to him. His brothers and sisters, mimicking their parents showed no love to him at all. He grew up living the nightmare not knowing what love is. Imagine crying out, like toddlers do, holding an empty bottle with an overflowing diaper and being completely ignored as if you didn’t exist. The guy grew up, became twisted in a loveless life not knowing up from down or right from left. Like a traveler without a destination, wandering the dry vast desert of nothingness completely unphased by his destitute predicament simply because he knows no other. In the midst of the wandering, he causes pain in the very few relationships he develops. He meets people, takes advantage of them as if to take pleasure in it. Finally he commits the ultimate act of horror. He actually kills someone. It shouldn’t be a surprise really. He doesn’t know what love is. How could he?
The question for me is; how does a man like this know what the voice of God sounds like if he hasn’t even seen the shadow of love? Is it really his fault that he doesn’t know what love is?
Jesus spoke in parables to point to an alternate reality grounded in heaven. In the beginning of Mark 4, Jesus speaks a parable about a farmer sowing seed. The farmer sows seed on many different types of soil. Some so shallow that the seed blows away, and other soil so deep that it can withstand anything and grow. Later Jesus gives an explanation of the parable saying that the soil represents how we receive the word of God. The deeper the soil, the more we get ‘it.’
This guy was shallow soil. In fact, he was a concrete slab. He never knew of hope or love. And it sucked!
At the end of the parable Jesus says the words “he who has ears let him hear.” Important words to be sure. Yet, how can someone hear if nobody bothers to tell him in a way that he can hear? This guy lived a hell on earth. Sure, there are miracles where people see God in the worst of the worst. But this guy never knew he should be listening for God in the first place.
In my mind I like to think that after this horrible act people begin to show him a love grounded in Jesus by both words and actions. Imagine people giving depth to their actions by sharing the story of the gospel in which those actions are grounded. Imagine if this guy was forgiven.
Is that evangelism?
*The story above was inspired by a true story*