Posted by Hannah Etsebeth | Posted in Communication, faith | Posted on 18-12-2009
Tags: approach, evangelism, gentleness, jesus, obama, respect
Remember when President Obama was running for election? Everyone had something to say about it. I remember it well… I was sitting at Paradise Bakery in a back cove working on my laptop, engrossed in a spreadsheet. Suddenly, out of nowhere this guy was standing in front of me with an Obama pin asking me who I was going to vote for. I was completely caught off-guard. At that point it wouldn’t have mattered if I was Obama’s Campaign Manager, what mattered was that he was being rude and abrasive. But, I was sweet and told him “no thank you” to the pin he was offering. He then pressed on, “Who are you voting for? Why are you voting for them? Did you know this? Did you know that?” In my head I’m thinking… “Dude! All I know right now is that you’re in my space and being completely inconsiderate!”
… and then it hit me… abrasive evangelism…
For those of you that have grown up in the Church, you know what I mean. A few well-intentioned, zealous people head out to evangelize on the streets, in the malls, etc. Many times it’s very proper and well-done, soup is handed out, conversations naturally arise, people are served and befriended, and that’s not what I’m talking about… The Obama guy reminded me more of tactics I’ve seen where people will go up to strangers in malls, restaurants, etc. and want to strike up a conversation… and it’s just out of place. Please understand, I am not making a bold statement telling anyone what to do or what not to do. God leads many directions, and I am not one to be so arrogant as to say what God will not and will not do, but hear me out.
With my experience with the zealous Obama pusher, I came to understand how it must seem. No matter how amazing the message might be, when presented in an inconsiderate, intrusive way, it makes it very hard for the Message to be heard.
The other evening as I was reading in 1 Peter my heart quieted as I read these words that clarified it for me:
“But in your hearts set apart 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, keeping a clear conscience, that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
1 Peter 3:15-16
I think that says it well. When Christ is set apart as Lord in your life and living for Him dominates your everything, it will show. It will show everywhere you are because it colors your life… peace, joy and hope cannot be hidden. When people ask about it or when it comes up in conversation, you will naturally give a reason for the hope that you have – with gentleness and respect. It represents our Message better anyway.
Thoughts on Real Life Evangelism
Sometimes I wonder if the reason people can be abrasive in evangelism is because we feel like somehow we are solely responsible for the salvation of others. And we feel as if we don’t “evangelize” then one day God and his golden hammer will hit us over the head.
Here’s the deal… I have to believe that when the Bible says, “the Holy Spirit draws all men unto Himself” that means exactly that. “We are his instruments” which means we are to live a life that exemplifies the presence of God and his mercy for us and for our friends… The opportunity to talk about our Hope naturally should frequent our lives, because it is the Hope that colors our everything. Gentleness and respect are easy when you have set apart Christ as Lord and are allowing His goodness to flow through you. When the opportunity comes (and it will) you’ll naturally give the reason for the Hope that you have and people will understand and respect it, because it matches what they’ve seen in you.
Those are my thoughts from my untheological mind.