Those are the names of the three high school boys I met Tuesday morning on my way to church/work. Jonathan was standing alone on the corner waiting for the school bus. I knew that I would miss the more convenient city bus if I stopped and the conversation was long, but I had just been ranting to the Lord about how someone who doesn't readily witness, so...
I just walked up to him, said, "Good morning, sir," then stopped and said, "Hey, have you ever taken the Good Person Test?"
Jonathan: "The what?"
"The Good Person Test! It's a three-question test to see if you are a good person."
"Question number one: have you ever told a lie?"
"What does that make you if you tell a lie?"
"That's correct. Question number two: have you ever stolen anything?"
"And what does that make you if you steal?"
"No, Steelers are from Pittsburgh. Try again."
(He smiles.) "Um...A thief?"
"That's correct. Question number three: have you ever hated anyone?"
"And what does that make you if you hate somebody?"
"No -- that's the ghetto answer!"
"Oh." (laughter) "I don't know. Someone who dislikes somebody?"
"Well, the Bible says that if you hate someone, that makes you a murderer."
"Yeah. Because the issue is not how much harm we do to the other person, it's how angry God will be, because we take the breath that He gives us, and we use it to mistreat our fellow man. That's why 1 John 3:15 says, 'Whoever hates his brother is a murderer' and Jesus said in Matthew chapter 5, that, if we call someone mean names, we will get the same punishment as a murderer on Judgment Day."
He was stunned. "So I guess I'm gonna die?"
I explained to him that death wasn't his only problem: the second death is the real problem.
Funny, though. When I told him that he was going to be judged by God, he said that he wanted to talk to God face to face. I warned him, "Um, God is only going to ask you about one thing: Did you break my law? What are you going to say?"
"So what should God do with people who break His Laws?"
"And where does God punish people?"
"For how long?"
"So, what does that say for you?" No, not a pleasant thought, after all, but a very real prospect, in light of the Law. "So do you know what God did for us so we don't have to go to Hell?"
"Gave us the freedom of choice."
"Well, no. You mean the freedom to choose between right and wrong?--well, we've already proven that we have often chosen wrong. That doesn't help us--that's what got us in trouble in the first place. And Jesus said, 'that every idle word that men shall speak, thy shall give account thereof on the day of Judgment.' So what God did was He sent His Son Jesus to die for our sins. Jesus lived a perfect life--He never sinned. Then, on the cross, Jesus gave up His righteousness and took on our sins, so that, if we give up our sins, God can give us Jesus' perfect righteousnesss. And we won't be treated as children of the devil, we'll be treated as children of God, and receive mercy instead of Justice on Judgment Day."
Jeff came from one way, James came from another. Jonathan asked me what my name was, and we introduced ourselves, Jeff and James included. Then Jonathan asked me where I was going. "To work." I said.
"Where do you work?"
Jeff said, "Hey, my grandmother goes there!"
"Yeah. I go to Suncoast Cathedral."
"Oh, I know someone who goes there." (He didn't know her, though.) "So have you ever taken the good person test?"
Jonathan looked over to James and laughed, "Man, this guy just came up to me and started asking me about this test!"
James stepped in closer to listen and participate as I grilled Jeff. He didn't say "stealer" (good for him), but he did say "hater" and laugh at the "ghetto" joke. But when I told him why the Bible said that he was a murderer, James walked away. I think it was too much conviction for one morning. But Jeff did listen as I presented the Gospel to him. I blessed them all (including the two girls who stood across the street until the school bus came) and then I walked the rest of the mile, instead of the four blocks.
But I didn't mind the extra walking. At least three more seeds had just been planted. Praise God.