“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23
Last month I wrote about the power of a biblical worldview. In it, I defended the notion that the Bible is credible intellectually, satisfying existentially, and beneficial to humanity. In other words, the Bible is true, beautiful, and helpful. Of course, many in society today claim otherwise. And, some of these folks are friends of mine. I recently had a lengthy discussion with a buddy, who proclaims himself an atheist. Due to our friendship, he respectfully but passionately argued against the validity of the Bible and claimed that its truth claims only impede the values of a pluralistic society. I’ve heard this argument before, it’s not new. And I found myself spending almost two hours defending the Bible’s credibility as well as going on the offensive to deconstruct what “a pluralistic society’s values” even means. We discussed where values come from. We discussed the truth claims made by his relativistic worldview. We even discussed the resurrection of Jesus. I got all my points across (yes!). I came across somewhat respectful (I think). I even got him to admit to some faulty reasoning (woo-hoo!). I walked away feeling like I had won. But I also walked away exhausted and unchanged. And he did too. Hmmm….maybe I didn’t win at all.
I realized while driving away that no one will ever embrace the truth or wisdom of the Bible without the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit draws people not to a rational argument, but to Jesus Himself. I began to think of Harald.
From 2003 to 2006, I had an unlikely mentor named Harald Bredesen. I have never met someone more filled with the Spirit of God. He walked with God in daily conversation and emanated love for people. God’s Spirit led him to many purposeful adventures and significant conversations throughout his life. I had the privilege of joining him on a few trips driving through New York, Rhode Island, California, and Mexico. I had heard that he had ministered to world leaders such as Anwar Sadat and Ronald Reagan. But in his elderly years I got to watch him minister to waiters, waitresses, college students, single parents, and anyone else who came across our path. I was stunned at what I observed. Truth with love. Love with truth. Joyful laughter. Tearful empathy. Encouragement. Deep connections formed almost instantly. Always inviting, always welcoming, and always pointing to Jesus. This is the work of God’s Spirit.
In December, 2006, Harald passed away at the age of 88. Throughout our time together, I recorded some of our conversations and some of the voice mail messages he would leave for me. I put some of these together in a tribute video I posted on YouTube shortly after his passing. Take a look and a listen. If the video below doesn’t work, click here. What you will hear is the voice of a man filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. A man filled with God’s Spirit. A man who did not look at conversations as an opportunity to win, but rather as an opportunity to love and to exalt Jesus.
I’m still learning, Harald. Thank you for your example.
P.S. I miss you.