Posted by: minnow | December 3, 2008

Bible Thumping 101

Kathy Escobar’s children are serving up some difficult questions in her post, Honoring Doubt, not unlike those many non-Christians struggle with as they seek to find truth. And, a new blogger at A New Vision has several challenging posts which also wrestle with thought provoking questions. No doubt others could link to equally relevant posts (and if you comment feel free to add the link). The reason these questions piqued my interest is because of a conversation I recently had with my son. The gist of our conversation centered on the question: Why do so many Christians seem to think the only way to “witness” to non-Christians is to tell them they are sinners, need to repent, and then throw a lot of scripture at them?
As our conversation continued we began to realize the ridiculousness of such a scenario. Imagine if a stranger began talking to you by pointing out your faults. Then he told you, you needed to admit these faults, break your old habits, and ask for forgiveness. Finally, if you are even still listening, she opens up a book you are not inclined to read nor adhere to and begins quoting passages from it. How do you think you would react? The saddest part is that our little scenario accurately describes many of the first time experiences non-Christians have had with “identifiable” Christians.

Why say “identifiable” Christians? Now we are getting at the real point of this post. For years I rarely shared my faith with anyone I did not already know was a Christian. I did not want to be associated with those carrying hate placards out in front of the abortion clinic and court house or the Bible thumper that literally showed up on a soapbox week after week at our local farmer’s market every summer. And, if I dared to share my views about these situations either at my fellowship or in a Bible study, for example, someone inevitably hauled out Mark 8:38, “If anyone is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His Father’s glory with the holy angels” or Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jews and then for the Gentiles” to put me in my place. I learned my lesson quickly and began a long history of keeping my mouth shut.

(Yes, I know it is hard to believe, but it is true. In fact it may have something to do with my not being so closed mouth now. But, that is a little more self disclosure then I probably need. Ahem).

My vow of silence solution, however, was not a profitable one. When Christians chose silence we inevitably contribute to the negative stereo type non-Christians have of Christians. By not presenting an identifiable positive image we allow the negative one to represent us. In addition, and probably most importantly, the love of God is never given a vocal platform. Our job is not to shout down those who think it is their “calling” to expose wickedness. (Although we may need to confront the ugliness of their talk at times). Mostly, we need to be vocal about forgiveness and love and peace and spiritual provision and fellowship/community and all that is ours in the Lord.

As my son and I continued to talk I began to realize that I am pretty vocal on this blog about the need to talk with our actions: to give water to the thirsty and comfort to the hurting. I have not, however, been as good about giving God credit for who He is and all He has done, out loud and in my daily life. Hear me when I say, I do not mean I need to start peppering my conversations with “Praise Jesus!” and “Thank the Lord!” like I am the chorus in some Greek play. What I do mean is that I need to be willing to engage others in real conversations about political, social, and spiritual issues (from a God‘s world POV). Unless I really do not care how the world sees Jesus, I need to be His witness. And, witnessing is not an either/or proposition; either talk or act. Witnessing is BOTH/AND. I need to readily share my physical blessings but I also need to be ready to share my testimony–not just what I believe but why. At the same time, I must be willing to truthfully listen to an opposing point of view. I need to ask questions so I have a better understanding of not only what others believe but why. I also need to be ready to be hit with the negative stereo-type many non-Christians already have of Christians. If their only experience of us has been a long the lines of our “scenario” they may not want to have a whole lot to do with us. The fastest way to avoid feeding the negative stereo-type is to care more about being relational than being right.

One of my favorite Christian songs in high school used the line–”And they will know we are Christians by our love, by our love. They will know we are Christians by our love.” For me, it is a whole lot easier to sing about than to do, especially when it comes to my fellow Christians. But the truth of the line remains. Non-Christians are watching. They watch how we treat one another and how we treat them. So far, I am afraid, they have not seen a true image of Christ.

 

 

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Responses

  1. excellent post! I notice you have Without Wax on your blogroll! That’s my pastor!

    Here’s a link to a few blogs u might like…

    http://TheEvolutionofGod.wordpress.com

    tim

  2. thanks minnow. thought provoking as usual 🙂 have a great day!! xoxo

  3. Great post — makes for an easier witnessing model just to preach at people and force a yay or nay response — much harder and messier to form a real relationship, and be open to other’s questions and perspectives that may not square with your own…

    Got the opportunity to hear Scot McKnight a few weeks ago, talking about truly living out the Jesus Creed (loving God, and loving our neighbor), and what that means practically in terms of welcoming “others” into our lives — did a post that you might find interesting: http://blog.visionnavigator.com/2008/11/regroup-session-2-welcoming-other.html

    Blessings


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