Taxi drivers in China are some of the most interesting people to talk with. Since they interact with ordinary people all day long, they are often a great source of information about what Chinese people are thinking. In this post, translated from the Chinese blog Building Healthy Families, a taxi driver asks his passenger, a Christian pastor, to explain the gospel to him. It’s an interesting window into the types of questions a Chinese seeker might have and a model for how to respond to them.
A taxi driver was driving a pastor when he suddenly realized that, even though he'd heard over and over about the "gospel of the savior Jesus" in the past several decades, he still did not understand what it was all about. It just so happened he had a pastor at his side. So, he decided today was the day he would get to the bottom of the matter.
(TD—the taxi driver; P—the pastor)
TD: Pastor, do you have to pay money to believe in Jesus? Don't you have to pay membership fees to join your church?
P: My dear friend, you don't need to pay a penny to believe in Jesus. Heaven and eternal life are free gifts that God gives to the world.
TD: It's that easy, huh? To be a Buddhist or Daoist you need to buy incense, paper money, and some offerings. But you can go to heaven without spending one cent? It's free, huh? There's such a good thing in this world?
P: A free gift doesn't mean that there isn't any value attached to it. In fact, the value is too high, so no human can pay it. Therefore, in his grace God gave this at no cost to us.
TD: Oh, so that's it?
P: For instance, humans need three things to live: food, drink, and air. Which of these three things do you think is most important?
TD: Air, of course.
P: So, do we need to spend money to buy the air we breathe?
TD: No, we don't.
P: Does that mean it's not important because we don't need to pay for it?
TD: Of course not.
P: So God freely gives air to everyone to breathe because it's so important to us. If people temporarily ran out of money and were short changed to buy two minutes of air, do you think life would continue? In fact, Jesus' saving work is more important to each of us than air. Jesus is the rule of life. Only through faith in Jesus can someone enter heaven.
TD: Hmm, what you said sounds good, Pastor. But, if getting to heaven were that easy, then why do so many people in the world not believe in Jesus? Are you telling me that all of those corporate CEOs and university professors aren't as clever as we are?
P: That's a good question. Actually, many people cannot believe on account of the reason that everyone is a sinner. Sin will blind people's eyes and deafen their ears.
TD: Everyone is a sinner? So, you're telling me that all of those good people in the world are also sinners? Sorry, Pastor. I don't agree with what you're saying. At least, I'm not a sinner. I've never stolen anything, I've never killed anyone, and I've never even broken the law. How could I be a sinner?
P: The sin I'm talking about isn't something that's measured by human standards. For example, here is a cup. Some person manufactured this cup, right?
P: So, isn't the point of making this cup so that people can satisfy their need for a drink?
P: If the cup were made to leak water, it wouldn't be able to satisfy people's need for a drink. So, what should it be called?
TD: A broken cup.
P: That's right. God created people (in fact, he made the universe and everything in it) and people can't reach his requirements and standards. What should people be called?
TD: What should we be called?
P: We should be called sinners!
TD: Ah . . . So what are God's standards? What does he require of his people?
P: According to God's standards, people can't lie. In all of your life have you ever come across a person who doesn't lie?
TD: (Thinks for a moment) Oh, there isn't such person.
P: For God, this is sin! Because God never lies. In the beginning, God created people in his own image and likeness. People commit a sin when they lie.
TD: Oh, so this is a sin?
P: Yes. And, God is love. His standard is that people cannot have hate in their heart. Have you ever come across someone who has never held a grudge against another person, my friend?
TD: Oh, right, there isn't such person.
P: This is also a sin. The Bible says, "Whoever hates his brother is a murderer." When a person hates another person he has already committed a sin equal to murder because hate is the cause of every murder.
TD: So, everyone in the world is guilty of murder?
P: Sadly, yes. Also, God placed in every person's heart the principles of righteousness. What person with authority over others can treat with complete fairness those under his authority? Or, what parents can treat all of their children with complete fairness?
TD: Maybe righteousness is only found among the most disadvantaged groups.
P: If that's the case, have you ever seen a beggar who treats all the other people with the same attitude? No matter whether they are rich or poor, male or female, smart or stupid?
TD: It seems this is very difficult for people to do . . .
P: It's not that it is difficult to do; we just can't do it because a life in sin is a lifetime of living under the control of and in bondage to sin. There are more sides to sin, but we don't need to list them. What's actually important is for people to know what sin is, and even more so, to know the consequences of sin.
TD: The results of sin?
P: Right, "The wages of sin is death." This is the truth that God speaks to us through the Bible. Just like when a person who breaks the law is sentenced to death. Death then becomes a fact that this person must face and cannot change. But God is a loving God. He cannot bear to see us tread step by step towards destruction. So, he sent a Savior to save our lives.
TD: Wait a minute, Pastor. You just said that God is righteous. A person who sins must die. But God is merciful. He does not want us to die. Wouldn't it be contrary to God's own righteousness to save someone from death? Isn't that a contradiction?
P: God certainly won't turn deny his own righteousness. His every word will be kept forever and ever. In other words, he condemned mankind to death for their sins. Death is absolutely unavoidable. But, if there is someone to die in man's place, then sinners can avoid the punishment of death. So, God delivered a wonderful savior to a sinful people. He sent Jesus, his only begotten son, to earth to die for us. This is the story behind the "scapegoat," which has been told around the world for a long time. Jesus is like a blameless lamb that dies on the cross for us. He is the only person in the world without any sin because he is the Son of God!
TD: It sounds plausible, but why does the Son of God need to die in the place of sinners?
P: This is the whole origin of salvation. God did all this out of love. Aside from that, there is no other reason. It's like a father who wishes he could die in the place of his grievously ill son so that he could live on. This is the heart of a father. Actually, God loves us much more than our own fathers because our parents and we are his creatures. He is the source of love. In him is infinite love!
TD: Oh! In that case, if we know this but do not believe, are we even more guilty?
P: In fact, one of the greatest sins is not to believe in God! The Bible says, "The ox knows its master, the donkey its owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand." When someone deliberately does not recognize God, he abandons eternal life and chooses depravity that leads to the course of destruction.
TD: Pastor, I would like to accept the gift of eternal life. I want to believe in Jesus. What should I do now?
P: Thank God, you desire to repent and recognize all of your previous sins, and that you desire to give your life to the Lord. From here on you should follow the guidance of Jesus and walk in truth. "Truth" is the Bible, the Word of God. So, in this life you have real peace. And for the future, you can even look forward to eternal life!
TD: Thank you, Pastor! I believe! So, now I'm saved, right?
P: Yes, my dear brother. Now you are my brother. We are equal before Jesus Christ, like different limbs of the same body. This body is the body of the Lord Jesus. We can always speak to God; this is prayer. No matter when and where, regardless of the method of the prayer, he will hear it. He is everywhere and the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. He willingly stoops to hear our prayers.
TD: But, pastor, I don't know how to pray . . .
P: Here, follow along with me as I pray. I will say a sentence, then you say it.
P: Jesus, I thank you for your salvation that has come to me today.
TD: Jesus, I thank you for your salvation that has come to me today.
P: I admit that I am a sinner.
TD: I admit that I am a sinner.
P: I believe you died on the cross to pay for my sins.
TD: I believe you died on the cross to pay for my sins.
P: I believe your blood washes away all of my sins.
TD: I believe your blood washes away all of my sins.
P: I wish to repent and turn to you.
TD: I wish to repent and turn to you.
P: I wish to live a lifetime of obedience to your word and live for you.
TD: I wish to live a lifetime of obedience to your word and live for you.
P: I ask that you lead me and guide me.
TD: I ask that you lead me and guide me.
Original article: 出租车司机与牧师的对话 (Building Healthy Families Blog); Reprinted from 《教会》杂志总第54期 (The Church, No. 54)
Image credit: Chengdu Taxi, by Philip Roeland, via Flickr
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