Yesterday was my birthday. It was a birthday full of firsts. It was my first birthday being 29 years old! It was my first birthday being a father! It was my first birthday where my wife got me a really (and I mean REALLY) expensive present! It was also my first birthday where I got to share the gospel with a stranger!
After I got home from work my wife and I decided to walk down to the Whole Foods shopping center on PCH and Beryl. I wanted to get a smoothie and enjoy a nice walk with my wife and daughter. On the way down to the store we passed by a gentleman named Tyler and before I could say anything to him my wife was already saying “hi” to him. Apparently they had met a few weeks prior at the local grocery store. Tyler is a professional Volleyball player who just participated in the Hermosa Beach open and will be competing in the Manhattan Beach open in August with the AVP Tour. He plays Volleyball every day down at the beach and also teaches lessons. That sounds pretty fun! He asked me if I played and that he knows someone who is about 5 feet tall who is an absolutely awesome volleyball player. That was encouraging since I thought I was always way too small to be any good at volleyball. I might take him up on lessons sometime since he offered to teach if I'm interested.
After talking to him for a bit, I handed him a gospel tract and I asked him if he had ever received one of them before. He told me he had but had never taken the time to read it. It was a million dollar bill with the million dollar question on the back, “If you were to die, would you go to heaven?” His answer was that “he hoped so”, but wasn’t sure. He believed in heaven and hell and believed that a person had to be good to go to heaven. He considered himself a good person so I decided to take him through some of the Ten Commandments. He told me he had never lied or stolen anything in his life, which I found pretty unbelievable. He did admit to blasphemy, adultery of the heart, murder of the heart, as well as dishonoring his parents. By the standard of the Ten Commandments, he recognized that God would see him as guilty on Judgment Day and that he would have to go to hell because he had broken those commandments.
He told me that everyone had done those things so no one would be innocent on Judgment Day. That is exactly right according to Romans 3:23 and Romans 3:10-12. If everyone had done those things, he thought he would be ok, but I reminded him that God will deal with each person individually. Just as an earthly judge has to deal with each lawbreaker individually, so God won’t look at other people and compare you to them; He will judge us in light of the Ten Commandments and each person will be judged according to what they have done (Romans 2:6). And even if you don’t break all the commandments, the Bible says that if you are guilty in one point, you are guilty of breaking the entire Law (James 2:10). It is as if you are hanging by a chain with ten links and if just one link breaks you’re going to fall.
Tyler seemed to understand the justice of God and was concerned that if he died today and stood before God he would be guilty and the punishment would be eternity in hell. I was then able to share with Him what God did for us so that we wouldn’t have to go to hell. I explained how God sent His Son Jesus Christ to take our penalty upon himself by dying in our place and that if we repent and put our faith in Jesus Christ to save us then God can legally let us go on Judgment Day because the penalty has already been paid by Jesus Christ. We have to receive that gift by faith, turn from our sin (repent), and trust in Him alone to save us.
He thanked me for talking with him and I gave him my contact info in case he has questions about what we talked about. He told me he had a Bible at home and was going to read it later that night. It also turns out that he only lives about 10 houses away from me. I encouraged him to read the Gospel of John and to get right with God as soon as possible. I hope to see him again sometime soon.
Jesus said "it is more blessed to give than to receive" and I am thankful He gave me the opportunity to share the greatest gift of all with Tyler on my birthday.