She was a good-looking young lady. Neat, modestly dressed, well-groomed hair neatly styled, the least bit of makeup on to accentuate her tan. She wore the simple accessories of small earrings with matching necklace and bracelet. Those neat little extra attentions to appearance that said ‘feminine’ are rare among the tourist browsing the shops and stalls along Kawakawa Boulevard on Waikiki Beach.
And the clean-cut neatness of the obviously new outfit that her companion wore screamed “honeymooners”. I couldn’t help but smile to myself, thinking they couldn’t have been more obvious if they’d had a placard hanging around their necks. They made a good-looking couple.
And then it hit me. The painful joy-stealing conviction so strong and compelling that it brought a rush of tears to my eyes and I had to quickly turn aside and look for an empty bench to hide while I stabbed into my hip pocket for a handkerchief. I must have been more concerned for what passerby’s thought because I buried my face in my pocket-rag and tried to fake a cough or a sneeze.
But the pain of my condemnation wouldn’t let up – and even now, 30 years later, that pointing finger of accusation stabs my memory. It is one of those things that you have to confess, repent of and adjust your attitude and actions. And then have to do it again an again.
Less than a week before I had been sitting in a smoky, thatched-roof hut with Paul Wyton in on another island in that South Pacific Ocean -Papua New Guinea. As my eyes adjusted to the dimness I found a place to sit by an old man. It was on a platform of split bark laid across poles, about 6 or 8 inches above the packed dirt flour. An old sow lay nearby, giving suck to her piglets. One of the kids kicked a mangy, skinny dog that gave every indication of being very unhappy about the treatment he was obviously accustomed to. The stooped-shouldered old man pulled a ragged and dirty blanket over his shoulders and looked ahead with a bored and disinterested attitude. He did extend a feeble hand for me to shake but there was no grip in his hand or greeting in his gaze.
He was totally deaf. He had not even heard thunder since before the first missionaries arrived in his remote mountain village. Although the Tallmans’ and Wytons’ had finally mastered the unwritten language and were able to converse fluently in the Fore dialect, it was physically impossible to give the Gospel of grace to this old man. It was too late in his life to hear. He could not have read the Gospel if it had been written for him. The old man was illiterate and stone deaf. He had lived in his mountains since the Allies had fought the Japanese for control of this island that had not even become a nation.
He had lived and would soon die in absolute and complete despair. He was beyond the hope of the Gospel. The helpless depravity of this cannibal so overwhelmed me with the feeling of desperation that I was unable to contain the rush of tears. I still cannot forget the haunting look of that old man nor the agony of my soul as I sat there beside him.
Nor can I erase from memory of the horror of conviction that hit me in that swanky temple of materialism we call a mall in Hawaii.
I was impressed with the beauty of the bride and the neatness of the groom. I was impressed with the total depravity of the old Fore man.
I desperately wanted to present the Gospel to the old man but I could not. I could have easily communicated the Gospel to the honeymooners but I would not.
WHY? What’s the difference?
“…there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” declares Romans 3:22-23.
And the wonderful message is that“…there is no difference…For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” Is the promise of Romans 10:12-13
The amazing grace is that God makes no difference in the matter of sin and salvation!
The shameful disgrace is that we do.