We see broken people becoming whole, through the love of Christ.To build a community in which to belong, grow and serve. To love our neighbours by helping them overcome spiritual and physical needs. To contribute to Spirit-filled transformation in the city of Guelph.
My heart fell as I looked up and saw who was coming towards me. “Not him!” I moaned inwardly.
I was in the student union building (the SUB). It was early in my third year of university. I was a small group leader for our Inter Varsity chapter. My friend Matt and I were leading a small group at Matt’s house and somebody named Steve had emailed me saying he wanted to join it but didn’t know where Matt lived. I told Steve I would meet him at the SUB. Then I saw who “Steve” was. I groaned inwardly.
I didn’t know Steve well, but I had a bad first impression of him. He was a mature student, in his 30’s, who struck me as a person who wanted attention. Sometimes I overheard him making provocative comments about God, seeming to invite argument. I just didn’t like him. And here he was, coming to our small group. Crud!
It turns out that Steve was muttering similar things under his breath when he saw me that evening too. He hadn’t had a very good first impression of me either. He thought I was a stiff with a rod implanted in an anatomically impossible place. He told me that later. When we were best friends.
You see, Steve and I never would have chosen to be friends. We had bad first impressions of one another. We didn’t have a lot in common. He was a married father of 3, studying in a liberal master’s program. I was 20, single, studying math on my way to becoming a math professor. We didn’t think we had anything in common. But what we forgot is that we had Jesus in common!
Over the next couple months, through our small group Bible study, Steve and I became best friends. I discovered that his provocative comments were driven by a desire to know about the Bible. He had a lot of non-Christian, often religiously hostile friends who were always feeding him information and arguments against Christianity and the Bible. Steve, you see, has dyslexia and reading was a challenge for him. He needed friends who had knowledge of the Bible to teach him how to respond to these arguments. I became that friend.
Over the next 2 years, Steve and I spent hours talking about God, the Bible and Christianity. In high school I had read a lot of books on apologetics, and even more useful, my Dad was a professor of theology at the time. I could ask him questions and discuss things with him and then carry that information to Steve. Steve and I would play pool together, go to my favourite coffee shop, and generally hang out together, almost always talking about Christianity at some point. Steve would ask questions that would challenge my understanding, but he was always asking from a position of faith. I knew he was “safe” to talk about these things with because he loved Jesus. He wasn’t trying to undermine my faith, he was trying to strengthen his own and find ways to talk to his non-Christian friends about the same things. We built a great friendship founded on our mutual relationship with Jesus and our respective gifts.
But Steve and I would never have chosen to be friends! We didn’t like each other at first. We would not have gotten to know each other if it wasn’t for being “forced” by circumstances to be in a small group together. Steve later told me that he had looked at every small group being offered that term and mine was the only one that fit his schedule. When he realized I was the leader, he was so disappointed! And then he realized it was God’s intervention in his schedule directing him to join my small group. If it had been up to us, we never would have chosen to be friends. But God, in his wisdom and mercy, pushed us together. And his kingdom was glorified.
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