Healing Power

Running commentary on how Jesus' Healing Power is affecting my life - and helping me to help others.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

A Closer Look at Threat Levels

Podcast available here

In a previous entry, I wrote about five threat levels of evangelism. Intrigued by my buddy AT's success on You Tube, I posted my own VidCast which was basically me reading that entry. You can view that here as well. Don't worry, AT,I'm not going to go much further into video at this time.
Anyway, one of the written comments was "Evangelism? lol. I've seen those kind of people too. lol. nice shot at them". Oh, wow. I really wasn't trying to "take a shot at anyone" with my comments on threatening evangelism. This is not, however, a defense of anything I've written or said. It is an analysis of why that comment may have been made.
Many people perceive Christians as a threat, even if we don't come right out and say we are trying to increase the flock. So many people have had negative experiences with Christians, that it's no wonder they see us as a threat. Let's look at that, shall we?
Perhaps we should define comfort levels in conjunction with threat levels. After all, if someone is not impeding on my comfort level, they are not threatening me, are they? So, what is your comfort level? Can you handle the truth?
The vast majority of humankind has some sort of belief in higher power. Either they are devout atheists, devout believers in one or more deities, or somewhere in between. Most of us believe something because our parents taught us about it. Some found it through the action of others, whether directly or indirecty. Truth is, most everyone, whether atheist, agnostic, buddhist, hindu, jew, muslim, christian or other, is fairly firm in whatever they believe. The thought of conversion, therefore, is a threat. I, for example, am commited to my LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ. That commitment causes me to view with suspicion anyone who wants me to believe otherwise. Why, then, would I expect them to react differently toward me?
Here in Houston, I live in a very diverse neighborhood. On my block are muslims, buddhists, hindus, christians and atheists. The next block over, there are places of worship for the christians, muslims and buddhists. I'll be honest: I have yet to reach out to anyone about Christ. Why? They have their own beliefs. Though I believe they are hellbound for their rejection of the gospel, they believe I am hellbound (or whatever) for my acceptance of it. It's a catch-22.
So, it violates my comfort level to violate theirs. What, then, am I called to do?
I am called to imitate Christ and the apostles.
Christ spoke in the temple on regular occasions, but that was to His own people, the descendants of Jacob. When He did speak to gentiles, it was the gentiles who brought up the subject.
InJohn chapter 4, Jesus talks with a Samaritan woman at a well. He does not walk up to her and say, "I'm the Messiah. Worship me." Rather, He slowly leads the discussion that way. He never condemns her, even though He acknowledges her sinful lifestyle. His approach to this non-believer is one we need to note.
Another example is Saul and the proconsul Sergius Paulus in Acts 13. Sergius Paulus was a pagan, but intrigued by what he had heard about God and sent for Saul and Barnabas. Though a miracle was performed in his court, the proconsul "believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord."
Is it, then, appropriate to go boldly into people's personal space and tell them about something that may make them uncomfortable? What is it about Christ that may make one uncomfortable? Is it the alternative? Is it the fact that their rejection of the gospel is a one-way ticket to the second death? Is there a scriptural example of 'cold-call' evangelism?
Sorta.
Acts 17 relates Paul's street-preaching in Athens. He knows they believe in a multitude of gods; they even have an altar "TO AN UNKNOWN GOD." The enterprising missionary then introduces them to this "unknown god," who's name is Jesus Christ.
So, through comparison and reasoning, we may be able to introduce another to Christ. But bringing up the subject with the words "if you don't know Jesus, you are going to HELLLLLLLLL!" will avail you - and Christ - nothing but an empty net.
So evangelism has a bad rap because of a few over-zealous but well-meaning folk. If this is your style, I invite your comments: tell me of a time when you won someone over. I know that friends who received that treatment 25 years ago are still unreceptive to the gospel.
Reach out in love with reason. Reach out with an open hand, not clenching a bible to thump it over their heads.

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