In the 1970’s, I was your worst nightmare. I was involved street evangelism. Yea, I was one of those people who would stop you at the gas pump and ask you if you “knew Jesus.” At the time, we really thought we were doing the right thing. I am not sure we were doing anything wrong; sharing faith is sharing faith. I believe time, maturity and results proved that people are more likely to listen to someone that they already have an established relationship with when searching for spiritual answers. Plus, sharing the Gospel really shouldn’t be a high-pressure sales maneuver or a bible thumping activity. These days, my bible is tattered from use; not from abuse.
The Bible teaches that God can work with anything and He has victory in everything. My team and I actually saw people turn their lives around and choose faith over drugs, alcohol, or a life of despair. I realize now that the results had more to do with God’s work in their lives before we met them than our impromptu efforts during a forced meeting.
One day while visiting a lady in a local apartment complex, she mentioned she had just returned from filing for divorce from her husband of two years. My visitation partner and I asked her if we could pray with her in hopes of seeing her marriage reconciled. She replied, “Oh, no. I’ve prayed about it. God gave me permission to divorce him.”
As I think back over the conversation we had with that young woman in 1979, I am reminded of the saying that goes, “It is better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.” That’s a concept from a human perspective that seems to give some of us the sense of entitlement to do what we want to do, when we want to do it, how we want to do it and simply say, “I am sorry,” afterwards. From a biblical perspective, I like to recite the portion of the Lord’s Prayer that says, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
When it comes to spiritual matters, God will not give us permission to go against His word. He will, however, offer us forgiveness when we do. We must ask for that forgiveness. It’s not about permission. It’s all about grace.