It’s Easter week and I do NOT have the gift of evangelism. Easter delights me. Evangelism…well, not so much.
Can you relate?
I was part of a Christian organization in college that taught us to “share our faith” (read: tell people how messed up they are and scare the Hell out of them. Literally). We had to go out and practice “sharing” the 4 Spiritual Laws with people (read: random, confused strangers).
It may have scarred me for life – not the tract, the way of “sharing”.
Or maybe I’m just using that as an excuse. I have nothing against the 4 Spiritual Laws as a resource. Ironically it is how I came to faith in Jesus.
Anyway, a few weeks ago I was sitting around a table in Jerusalem eating lunch with a very diverse group of people.
There were other Jesus-followers like me (you know, kind, sensitive, careful to not offend).
And there was our host, who pastors a church of mostly Messianic Jews. He is passionate about bringing Jews into a relationship with Jesus – accepting Him as their Messiah.
Lastly there was a Jewish couple at the table who do not buy the Jesus as Messiah line.
I sat in the middle of the table with the “Burdened pastor guy” at one end, and the Jewish couple at the other.
What if the Jewish couple felt offended, uncomfortable, or judged?
What if the pastor “preached” at them (or served pork?).
What if my friend Matt Moberg asked a question that stepped on someone’s toes somewhere at the table and they slammed down their fork and stormed out?
I know that the Gospel can be offensive even if we don’t make it offensive with our delivery. (1 Cor. 1:23, Romans 9:33)
But it didn’t happen. What also didn’t happen was an honest conversation where real questions were asked respectfully from both ends of the table.
The pastor shared his prayer – that the Jews would come to know Jesus as their savior.
The Jews at the table did not fall to their knees and “pray the prayer of salvation”. Everyone was respectful and no blood was shed.
Afterwards it prompted several conversations in our group about our posture towards non-believers in Jesus, or explorers, or people of other faiths.
Augustine said “Preach the gospel everywhere. If necessary use words.” Most of us, I think, have decided that words are really never necessary.
Are we actually denying our faith by our uber-sensitive silence?
I’ve been thinking…What if we, as Christians, saw ourselves as hosts at a luncheon, around a table with guests of varying experiences, just like the one I attended in Jerusalem? Maybe we’d prioritize
- People over projects. If you’re getting to know someone, you want to KNOW about them and have them know about you…authentically. Build on what you have in common, but be honest about where you have different perspectives or experience.
- Love language over foreign language. Genuinely care for the other. Ask yourself if you’re speaking a “language” they’ll relate to.
- Conversation over conversion (which means more asking than telling)
- Appetizers over All-you-can-eat Old Country Buffet. Offer tiny bites (like those mini desserts in shot glasses they have now). Don’t try to cram a whole meal down someone’s throat.
Like I said, I’m really not good at this, so I’m trying to learn. Are there experiences or thoughts you can share?
“But in your hears revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” 1 Peter 3:15