A man I have admired for decades, the man who taught me Hebrew in seminary many years ago, is Dr. Bruce Waltke. He is not only a Semitic scholar par-excellence, he is a gracious servant of our Lord. In my opinion, he is one of the finest examples of a peacemaker in the family of God. Too brilliant for words, yet the epitome of grace and love. What a magnificent balance!
A number of years ago, Dr. Waltke, another pastor, a graduate student at Brandeis University (also a seminary graduate), and I toured the mother church of the First Church of Christ Scientist in downtown Boston. The four of us were completely anonymous to the elderly lady who smiled as we entered. She had no idea she was meeting four evangelical ministers, and we chose not to identify ourselves—at least at first.
She showed us several interesting items on the main floor. When we got to the multiple manual pipe organ, she began to talk about their doctrine and especially their belief about no judgment in the life beyond. Dr. Waltke waited for just the right moment and very casually asked: “But, Ma’am, doesn’t it say somewhere in the Bible, ‘It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment’?” He could have quoted Hebrews 9:27 in Greek! But he was so gracious, so tactful with the little lady. I must confess, I stood back thinking, “Go for it, Bruce. Now we’ve got her where we want her!”
The lady, without a pause, said simply, “Would you like to see the second floor?” You know what Dr. Waltke said? “We surely would, thank you.” She smiled, somewhat relieved, and started to lead us up a flight of stairs.
I couldn’t believe it! All I could think was, “No, don’t let her get away. Make her answer your question!” As I was wrestling within, I pulled on the scholar’s arm and said in a low voice, “Hey, why didn’t you nail the lady? Why didn’t you press the point and not let her get away until she answered?”
Quietly and calmly he put his hand on my shoulder and whispered, “But Chuck, that wouldn’t have been fair. That wouldn’t have been very loving, either—now would it?”
Wham! The quiet rebuke left me reeling. I shall never forget that moment. And to complete the story, you’ll be interested to know that in less than twenty minutes he was sitting with the woman alone, tenderly and carefully speaking with her about the Lord Jesus Christ. She sat in rapt attention. He, the gracious peacemaker, had won a hearing. And I had learned an unforgettable lesson.
Do you know what she saw in my friend? A living representation of one of God’s sons . . . exactly as Jesus promised in His beatitude: “they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).