Don’t you just love those pushy salespeople that won’t take ‘no’ for an answer? They call at suppertime and don’t seem to understand that you’re just not interested. Make the mistake of going to a timeshare presentation in resort areas and the 90 minute presentation gives a whole new perspective of the word ‘eternity’. Granted many of the salespeople are in it for the commission, and they’ve been very well trained in overcoming objections, but still. But did you ever wonder if there’s maybe another reason? Like perhaps they really believe in the product that they’re selling?
Sometimes I wish that Christians were as persistent as pushy salespeople in sharing their faith. I don’t mean being obnoxious about it, but persistent, as in acting like they were, or better yet being, passionate about wanting to introduce their family and friends to Jesus. Believe in the product!It’s not even trying to beat someone over the head until they agree to say the sinner’s prayer: Jesus often seemed to love people into the kingdom rather than drive them in. Besides we want transformation, not just an outward display of conforming.
I had an opportunity to speak to a rather mixed group,theologically speaking, a while ago. One of the men there later told me that he really respected me for trying to share without starting out by saying that I was right and he was wrong. Now I certainly could have started out by telling the group that I had all the answers and they didn’t, but as this man said, he grew up as Native American with the accompanying spirituality of that culture; further complicating things was that his background also included Catholicism and a little LDS theology. Regardless, he had an idea, based on his background, of what he needed to do to make sure the afterlife was as pleasant as it could be. His ideas just didn’t match mine.
Did he tell me that he didn’t want to hear anything I had to say? No. What he said was that he was willing to at least listen to what people had to say if they said it respectfully, and might even want to hear more, but if I had started out saying he was wrong, he would have been done listening. By respecting his values and world view, I earned the right to tell him more about mine. By the way, his children were also there, and he was getting tired of the Christians who were ever so willing to tell his small children that they were going to the bad place unless... He didn’t mind that his children were hearing another perspective, he just didn’t like the way that it was being presented. Hmmm, that sounds familiar. I might be willing to listen unless you try to shove your ideas down my throat!
We do need to care enough to be persistent about the things we’re passionate about, and if we are, perhaps we eventually get to the place where we can point out the misconceptions in another’s theology; or perhaps we plant the seeds and someone else gets to see the plant grow and bear fruit. But sometimes we have to be willing to push the product in smaller doses than at other times. Not everyone is ready to hear and respond to the good news. That doesn’t relieve us of the responsibility for sharing, it just means that on any given day we need to understand that we might not see results with 100% of the people we approach.
When I was growing up, it seemed that everyone in my small hometown was either Methodist or Catholic, and most of them even went to church. Witnessing is a lot easier when everyone has basically the same concept of God! Today before we start to talk about Jesus, we might have to lay the groundwork and explain who Jesus is. At least define the way we are presenting Him. To a Muslim, Jesus is a historical figure, but he’s a prophet that isn’t as great as Mohammed. Jewish people for the most part don’t view Him as the Messiah. Jesus doesn’t really have much of a place in the Native American spirituality, and when you talk to a Hindu or Buddhist even the concept of one God has to be explained.
One size no longer fits all when it comes to sharing our faith, so let’s learn to love people into the kingdom rather than try to beat the kingdom into them. After all, nobody likes a pushy salesperson.