Talking about Eternity
by David Foster with Roland Clarke
My favorite Scripture verse is Ecclesiastes 3:11 and I’ve shared it with thousands of people! Recently I preached a sermon, Quest for Immortality, explaining how to inherit the gift of eternal life as seen in the story of the rich young ruler. This story contains an astonishing, if mysterious, metaphor about a camel going through the eye of a needle. God has shown me this last week how positively intriguing and thought provoking this story can be!
Let me share a few stories illustrating how I’ve been able to engage a number of unbelievers in seasoned-with-salt conversations (Colossians 4:2-6). Last Sunday morning I had an unusual encounter with a law enforcement officer which led to his curiosity being aroused so that I could share the gospel.
As I entered the church parking lot I noticed a police cruiser parked in a corner. The officer was all by himself. I walked over with a smile and said, “Hi”. Then I explained, “Today we’re only offering online service so I’m here just in case I need to inform one or two people who possibly didn’t hear the announcement.” He explained that he was working on a report ….
God’s Spirit prompted me not to leave, but rather, to pluck up the courage and ask him, “Have you ever heard about the parable of the eye of the needle?” He thought for a moment and answered, “No.” So I explained that the previous Sunday I had spoken at the church on that parable. I asked if he would like to read it, adding, “It so happens that I have a copy in the car.” So he agreed to take a look at it. I have no idea the type of soil into which the seed fell but I am praying that God’s Word will take root.
I know that many neighbors in my apartment building have a ‘heart for eternity,’ whether intuitively, or in part because I shared Ecclesiastes 3:11 with them. God is convicting and challenging me in these dark days of pandemic-lockdown to wake up: Some of these neighbors could be curious, like the policeman, or maybe even seeking, like the young man who asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Yesterday I paid a brief visit to my barber friend named Khalil. (On a previous occasion we had talked about his name which means ‘eternity’.) He was in the middle of cutting someone’s hair and another customer was waiting, so I quickly whispered a prayer, “Lord help me to be gracious and yet make the most of the opportunity.” I told Khalil, “I haven’t come for a haircut but I do have an unusual experience to share. He paused his cutting and looked directly at me, as if to say, “Go ahead.”
I told him about the previous Sunday and how I was asked to present a message of hope about the hereafter. I also mentioned how I heard of the shocking death of a close friend from COVID just one day before I had to preach my sermon at the church! Then I added, “I thought you might be interested in seeing a copy of the message as it basically explains the meaning of your name.” He gladly accepted it and said, “Thanks for dropping by.”
These last few days, I’ve also shared with a number of other Muslim friends the story of the rich young ruler including the parable of the eye of the needle. Many followers of Islam are fascinated by this story as Jesus seems to deny his deity when he says, “No one is good except God alone.” This implication is addressed in a couple endnotes at the end of the full sermon script available online here:
On this link you will find a Chinese translation