Two young men, Sam and Dylan, walked into a bowling alley. Neither of them was very good, but they wanted to spend the evening doing something together. They were close friends, and were respected as godly young men. When they walked in they noticed Alex and Jake, two other fellows from their same church, about 7 lanes away from them. They were about the same age, but well, had a different reputation.

As these young men played, they happened to glance down at the other fellows. Alex and Jake were sitting at the table behind the lane drinking “iced tea” – or at least that’s what Sam and Dylan chose to call it. Knowing it was beer disgusted Sam and Dylan. Everyone knew they were into such things, but seeing them do it in public gave Sam and Dylan a close-up of reality. The round tobacco canister in their pockets and the content they were viewing on their phones was enough to disgust anyone.

What would Sam and Dylan do? Would they avoid these stray fellow church members because of their lifestyle? Could something be done to help these struggling young men?

As Sam and Dylan finished their second game, they decided they had enough bowling. They didn’t like the atmosphere, so they chose to leave. They returned their shoes and paid for their games, Dylan told Sam he wanted to go say hi to Alex and Jake. Sam wasn’t really interested in talking to them, so he took this chance to use the restroom. Dylan walked over to the guys and started a friendly conversation.

It was not only awkward for Dylan, but it also seemed to be for Alex and Jake too. As Alex sat there eating pizza he pretended to answer his phone and began talking on it, while Dylan started talking to Jake. He was very friendly, although tipsy. “Wow, look at those scores,” remarked Dylan. You guys are both really good.” They casually talked about the games. By now Sam returned from the restroom and sheepishly joined the others. Finally Dylan said it was good to see them and wished them a good evening, and he and Sam went to leave. Sam was glad to get away, and Alex looked equally relieved to end his “phone call.”

Before leaving the building, Dylan felt the Spirit telling him to go to the cashier and pay for Alex and Jake’s games. “Here,” he said. “I’d like to pay for those fellows over there.” The cashier didn’t ask questions, she just took the $21. Sam wasn’t impressed. He didn’t think it was right for Alex and Jake to act like that and then come to church on Sunday morning as if everything was ok. Dylan felt the same way, always quick to point out right and wrong and black and white, but he also knew he needed to show them love. Sam agreed, but couldn’t help his feelings. “If they have money for beer, tobacco, pizza, and cell phones then they have money for three rounds of bowling,” Sam said to Dylan.

When Alex and Jake went to pay, the cashier said their games had already been paid. The boys looked confused and said they didn’t pay. The cashier described the fellow who paid, and they quickly realized it was Dylan. Alex made some comment about them being goodie-goodies as he and Jake laughed. They both had guilt in the hearts as they thought about the encounter. He didn’t let on to Alex, but secretly Jake was touched. He sensed a nonjudgmental attitude and the love of Christ through Dylan’s friendly attitude and simple act of kindness.

Time went on, and nothing really changed for these four young men. All four continued in the same lifestyle. Eventually, Alex stopped coming to church. Jake didn’t stop though, and he and Alex were still great friends. Sam and Dylan always found it hard to relate to Alex and Jake. They were so different, and basically had nothing in common. Even though it seemed they had nothing in common, lots of times Dylan would sit with Jake in Sunday School and talk with him afterwards. Dylan even prayed for Alex and Jake every day! Sam on the other hand couldn’t see past the sinful reality of Jake in his mind.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Many years have passed since this story began. Sadly, nothing was heard much of Alex. Occasionally someone would see him around town, but he sure wasn’t interested in God or church. His friend Jake had a different outcome! He and Dylan both had become actively involved in ministry and activities in the church. Sam still attended there as well, and remained friends with Dylan, but something was missing in his life.

And that’s my tale of two Christians. (Actually it’s based on a true story, so it’s not completely a tale.) Do you know who the two Christians are in this story? Did you guess how this story would end before you finished reading it?

A Christian is someone whose life is patterned after that of Jesus Christ. Action, word, and lifestyle reveal whether someone is really trying to live like Jesus would or not.

Each of these young men had a choice. Alex chose to reject love and Jesus Christ and try to seek fulfillment elsewhere. Sam chose to be satisfied in his righteousness. Dylan chose to be like Christ, seeking the lost and showing love. Jake accepted the love shown him, and then chose to pattern his life after Christ.

I write these blog posts to challenge myself, and this one certainly challenges me. I know many times I have been a Dylan, but I also confess to being a Sam. If you are like Alex and Jake, I encourage you to accept the love of Jesus Christ and begin a new relationship of following Him. If you are like Sam, I encourage you to begin a renewed life of sharing with others that love you have received so graciously. If you are like Dylan, keep it up. Remember to pray, do not be discouraged, and keep sharing the truth in love!

God bless!

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