Monday I was out mowing the lawn on the steep hill in front of our house. Back and forth under and around the trees, sweating. Out of the corner of my eye I saw two pairs of women with young girls, Bibles in hand, making their way down our street, stopping at each house. Jehovah’s Witnesses. With invitations.
I thought, “Ugh! They have no relationship with me and they’re going to try to convert me. I’m a challenge to them. A project. A name to add to their list.” (Christians would never do that! :))
My first inclination was to keep my head down and keep mowing, hoping that they’d take the hint and pass me by. But then that pesky Holy Spirit reminded me of what I had been reading. How I had been impressed by Phillip’s example of just asking a question of the Ethiopian who didn’t know Jesus (Acts 8) and how Jesus had modeled asking the question “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10)
In the past when these folks have come to my door some of my stressed-out-us-and-them thoughts have been…
- Ohmygosh, now what is it again that they believe that’s different (read: “wrong”)?*
- What are the key verses that would highlight where we’re different (read: “wrong”)?
- How can I lead them to Jesus? (read: “show where they’re wrong and what’s right“)?
Instead, the Holy Spirit said “Offer them a drink.”
So I yelled down, “It’s hot out! Would you like to sit and have something cold to drink?”
They were delighted and astonished. We sat on my front steps in the shade sipping icy water and pop and introduced ourselves. They had fantastic names from the Bible like Shulamite and Priscilla. I asked them about the stories behind their names.
We ended up having a lovely conversation, each of us sharing our favorite Bible stories and our favorite Bible verses.
We talked about what we had in common, not our differences.
I felt like we encouraged each other in our love of God. We talked to each other as mutually beloved children of HIs.
We each knew we had differences. But I didn’t tell them the “whole truth”. I didn’t bring up Ephesians 2:8-9 or Colossians 2:9! Apologetics 101 fail!
Was I denying the Great Commission? Did I let Jesus down? What does “witnessing” look like? What are your thoughts?
*A few differences: Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe in the Trinity or that Jesus was fully God. They believe good works are necessary for salvation.