I wasn’t sure if he was flirting with her at first.
You know how you over hear conversations that grip your attention. I know I do all the time. Perhaps it is my reliance on hearing. Or maybe it is something altogether different—my incurable curiosity.
Well, my curiosity got the best of me the other day as we were eating frozen yogurt. Thankfully, our daughter still calls it ice cream. We can indulge her with weekly walks to the frozen yogurt shop for her favorite—chocolate ice cream (or the healthier alternative of yogurt).
As we sat together in front of the little shop in San Clemente, we over heard a man beginning a conversation with another woman as they both enjoyed the tasty dessert during half-priced happy hour. The topic of his conversation caught our attention. He started asking her about the church she attended. Innocent, right. Sure, and a good way to begin a conversation with a cute girl. Later, my wife confirmed that he was not flirting. I still hold my doubts.
However, the post here is not concerned with the pickup methods of middle-aged men. This post is much more concerned with where the seemingly light-hearted conversation went. They shared stories of where they had been to church over the past two decades. They talked about previous pastors and different ups and downs of their churches. Then it came.
Oh yes, a it finally came. He came to the point in the conversation where he could find out what kind of Christian this new friend might be. He asked the ever important question, what does your church teach about the end times?
If a mockumentary was filming me at that point, the scene would have shifted over to me answering questions about what was going on in my head.
Me: Really? I just heard that nice guy ask the girl about her end times beliefs. Hmmm, He as figuring out if they had a future as friends, and the essential thing he needed to know was what she believed about the millennial reign of Christ from a passage at the end of Revelation.
The awkward tenure of the conversation did not seem awkward at all to this guy. He went on talking as casually as one talks about the weather or the satellite TV company they prefer. He went into great detail talking about different churches in the area and their views on the end of the world. He told this unsuspecting bystander which churches were pre-millennial and which were amillenial.
My wife and I walked away after lingering over our yummy yogurt wondering what was that guy’s deal. Maybe we had been out of the country a little too long to get it. Six years in Thailand can taint a person on how they view life.
We reflected that in six years working with Christians in Thailand, oh and many more who were not yet Christian, that we had yet to have any one ask us about the millennial reign of Christ. No, in fact, we rarely if ever were asked what our theology was.
There were too few of Christians. If you ever met another Christian, they were thrilled to bump into another believer. The odds of running into another Thai person that knew God was around 1-in-150.
But on those rare days when we met another Christian and celebrated that we both knew Jesus, our conversations went different than this obscuretheology talk. People in the pre-Christian culture of Thailand never asked about doctrines (orthodoxy) in their small talk. They asked about how your walk with Jesus went (orthopraxy).
The thrust of discussions were always about how we lived our life and rarely about how we organized our beliefs. We find it fascinating how Americans codify people according to their systems of belief.
We miss the culture in Asia where life and practical living mattered much more than if someone was orthodox enough. We enjoyed finding common ground in living out our beliefs with others. We long for the days when we can have deep conversations that unite rather than divide.
When was the last time someone asked you about your theology?