Friday, February 29, 2008

A Muslim man

Brian brought up something at his website that gets me thinking about why I dislike certain kinds of evangelism. Doorman-Priest and Waynedawg made comments about it and it got me to thinking even more. So...

There was this guy who was traveling. While in a big city, he was taking a shortcut through an alley. Whereupon he was mugged. The guy was beaten when he tried to resist and left for dead.
A little while later, a fundamental evangelist was passing through the same alley. He saw the man lying there. And noticing he was still conscious, tried to tell him about Jesus. The man didn't seem to be listening well (and probably got what he deserved anyway), so he left with every intention to find help, except he was late for a meeting and forgot.
Another man passed through the same alley. He was a Muslim. This man saw the guy laying there. He knew that the man was in bad shape. So he picked him up and carried him to the street, found out where the nearest hospital was and brought him in. He even offered to pay for as much of the care as he could afford if they wouldn't provide it.

Now, we all know this story. And we always think the other person is the one in need of help. And though that is true, we need it just as badly. So the next time you see someone doing a good deed, don't just start saying, "Well, he's just trying to earn his way into heaven." Instead, realize he is telling people about a savior. And by his actions, shows that he know The Savior, far better than some of us do.

Telling people about Jesus is good. Pointing out how they fail is an okay start. But never leaving that point and forgetting that GOD created people, every single person, and that He loves them, leaves you in a cold and dark place.
Your light will not be very bright.

So instead of focusing on what they do wrong. Try instead to do right yourself. After you have shown love, then they might listen to you about Jesus. If you try to tell them without becoming involved in their story, you are most likely wasting your breath.

26 comments:

Geppy said...

Wow. The good samaritan parable and the speck/log and the judge not lest ye be judge all compared to each as the same thing....

Good post Roland!

Nator said...

Of course we all know the story, and we even know about the Samaritans, but a Muslim? That really puts that parable in perspective for us. It should also show us that we need to read the Bible in the context of the world at the time. I guess in the 60's we could have read that story and said a communist was walking by...

Geppy, I like the speck/log thing, but I don't want to get THAT started again. :")

Anonymous said...

Be a good Samaritian, but also keep these verses in mind from the apostle Paul when you evangelize from 1 Corinthians 18-25:

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:


“ I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”[a]

20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks[b] foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

In Christ,
Linda

WayneDawg said...

Roland -

Well, I'm glad that was just a story.

I'm sure you don't mean to imply that that is the standard of funamental evagelists. I can't imagine anyone leaving someone for dead.

I think your point, though, is more along the lines of whats called friendship evangelism. "Let your light shine before men so they can ask you about the hope that lies within you."

The main problem with trying to live a good decent life so that people will ask you about Christ, is that even unsaved people live good (according to man's standards) clean decent lives.

Besides, what if that person your befriending dies while you were waiting on him to ask about the hope that lies within us?

Roland - I never forget for one moment about God's love for man. God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son. That's huge!! It's because of that love that my sins are forgiven.

When I witness, it's because of the love I have for my fellow man and because I know that if that person died without Christ he would spend eternity in hell. That bothers me. That bothers me big time.

The love that I show someone else is in the fact that I'm telling them how to be forgiven.....I may never see that person again. How can I betray them? If I don't tell them, they may never hear from another.

What I do, I do with love.

Timm said...

Us Fundimental evangelists have some simular stories about friendship evangelists.

http://timmrees.blogspot.com/2007/06/rational-evangelism.html

As usual, there is a middle ground.

Doorman-Priest said...

Wayne reminds me of something which has been perplexing me and that is the issue of friendship evangelism which I have been accused of promoting. I am not really sure I understand what friendship evangelism is.

I do believe we have to earn the right to speak so that people can judge that what we say is congruent with the lives we lead. I do not believe that this process takes weeks and months, certainly not years while we wait for some opportune moment. That would be mad.

There are also some practical constraints to evangelism: I can not, I just can not speak to everyone I meet (unless I became an evangelist like Brian) about Jesus. My current life simply does not allow for that.

My strategy is to witness by my life and let other people initiate conversations with me, which they did long before I entered theological training. This has led me to wonder whether we have got the emphasis right: should we approach, or should we let the Holy Spirit lead others to approach us?

That is simplistic because, of course, they are not mutually exclusive, and it depends on the gifts the Spirit gives each of us.

That approach works with my four Muslim colleagues - and indeed my five Sikh colleagues.

Take my friend Halima. She is a delightful young woman with a deep Muslim spirituality and she recently returned from the Hajj. What would her response be to a total stranger, a Christian, asking her "Are you a good person?" or "Can I tell you about jesus?" or (worse) "You are Muslim and you don't know God"?

Reverse the situation. You are fresh out of a significant religious experience and a total stranger, a Muslim, comes up to you, gives you a tract and asks if he can tell you about the claims of Muhammad, peace be upon him. or whether he can tell you why you Christians have got it all wrong over the divinity of Jesus when Muhammad, peace be upon him, is the true prophet of God. Are you convinced? Of course not. Are you likely to engage him in longer conversation to his agenda? Unlikely. Are you likely to ponder on what he said? I don't know.

Halima and my other Asian colleagues and I talk about faith. That we can do so is because we have established deep respectful relationships. I am congruent which means we can talk. And we do, and we listen. I also must listen about Muhammad and Guru Nanak, because the moment I give the impression that I may have an agenda and the conversation has to be all one way, the dialogue is over.

I have no expectation of Halima's conversion, nor Asim's nor Kuljinder's but I am not the Holy Spirit. Does Halima listen to me? Yes. Does she discuss with me? Yes. Will she remember what I have said? Probably. Am I presenting the Gospel to her in words and actions? I would say so.

Who knows the future? Who can second guess God?

Would you say that if no other Christian ever talks to Halima, then she has had her chance? I hope not because it is just not that simple. How does a young woman in Modern (Chritian?) Britain, brought up in a Muslim faith she takes very seriously and which informs all her actions and attitudes really hear the Gospel? How does someone like her brought up in downtown Riyadh, hear it?

Sorry for the length of that. I hope it made sense.

WayneDawg said...

Doorman-Priest -

Good comments -

Let me start with this one...

"This has led me to wonder whether we have got the emphasis right: should we approach, or should we let the Holy Spirit lead others to approach us?"

When I go out witnessing, I let the Holy Spirit lead me. No one is going to come up to me in the park and have me explain the Gospel to them. I consider any conversation I have with anyone a 'divine appointment'. I believe that God has placed that person in my path at the right moment in time.


"Would you say that if no other Christian ever talks to Halima, then she has had her chance? I hope not because it is just not that simple."

If Halima dies without repenting of her sins and placing her trust in Christ, the Scripture is clear that she will go to hell. The Bible can't be anyless or anymore frank about that.

"How does a young woman in Modern (Chritian?) Britain, brought up in a Muslim faith she takes very seriously and which informs all her actions and attitudes really hear the Gospel? How does someone like her brought up in downtown Riyadh, hear it?"

This is why we send missionaries.

Romans 10:13-15 says..

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:

“ How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!”


This is why I go witness!!! My mission field is in North Georgia; that's where God has called me.

But others have been called to places in far away lands....

Your last question is the epitome of why we need to go and tell....not just around the world, but on your street, out in the parks, at the shopping center.

People are dying and Jesus said that wide is the path that leads to destruction and narrow the path that leads to life (but few find it).

WayneDawg said...

Doorman-Priest......

Please read what Timm posted. He is spot on.

http://timmrees.blogspot.com/2007/06/rational-evangelism.html

Roland said...

Geppy and Nator,
Thanks. I'd like to take all the credit, but there are things my church has been expounding upon recently, and it is just my way of sharing what I've learned.
But again, thanks. It tells me I am at least able to get across what I have been receiving.

Linda,
Good verses.
"... but we preach Christ crucified..."
I want to focus on this part of what is written.
How do you do that?
Is the only way to tell others by talking to them?
Or do actions speak louder?
I'm not sharing the truth of what you know is a bad thing. Bya ll means, share.
But what kind of sharing will have a better chance of being received?

Wayne,
I was waiting for you to comment. ;)
No, I wasn't trying to pick on fundamental evangelists. If you read what I wrote, his intentions were good. But you make some good points.
I'll ask you a question about just one part.
"Besides, what if that person your befriending dies while you were waiting on him to ask about the hope that lies within us?"
Let me answer with another question.
Do you have faith that God will save that person, if He wills it?
Or do you think it falls upon your witness to do that?

Timm,
Remember Mary of Magdelene? Did someone tell her of all the bad she had done? Did she already know?
Did Jesus do that? Or did He simply offer out His hand and help her?
Your post is good food for thought.
The woman was talking to her about Jesus. I don't know whether her evangelism was 'perfect', but I know she shared. And whenever a snowball starts rolling down the hill, it just keeps getting bigger. (provided the conditions are right) ;)
I share your burden, though. It's when they ask that they are most likely to listen.
We homeschool our kids. I think you do too. And though there are plenty of things I try to impart, the things that they are most in tune with, they seem to hang onto better.
Did you know that Lego.com is teaching my sone to read and write?
He keeps writing down the toy he wants, the price of it as well, and comes to me and we sound it out together. And it is wonderful.
I'm sure you have your own stories to share. But you can see what I'm getting at.
If the heart is in it, there is no end to the desire to know more.

Doorman Priest,
That is so spot on!
We often go in with an agenda and forget that they are people.
If we engage them as people, they will do the same. And we will start to understand each other.
Which is what Jesus was trying to get us to do.
Thanks for sharing. It makes complete sense to me.

Roland said...

"If Halima dies without repenting of her sins and placing her trust in Christ, the Scripture is clear that she will go to hell."

And isn't how she lives her life going to be a testimony to that.
Look at Cornelius in Acts.
He already knew God before Peter got there.
The sign of tongues weren't so much for Cornelius and his friends as they were for Peter.

Wayne, you keep meaking me think of a witnessing experience a pastor of ours had.
He went to the gym and was with one guy there for weeks and weeks. They would talk and share. He just was being genuine and friendly. Some things did come up in conversation, but he allowed the other guy to bring them up.
Eventually the other guy found out he was a pastor.
The guy was so amazed that he didn't try to force Jesus down his throat.
He talked more, they shared things about their lives.
That other guy now attends church regularly. And is ever so grateful for a friend that was just trying to be that. A friend.
What a great way to witness.
Our pastor didn't go in worrying whether or not God would take him before he got a chance to share.
He just was connecting with someone.
It works.
Trust God. Your don't have to do it. It is a joy to share. It shouldn't be a burden. At least not like the way you are looking at it.

Nator said...

Roland,

Spot on!

Has everyone gone British?

Or are we just trying to be deceptive? ;)

WayneDawg said...

Roland -

You asked "Do you have faith that God will save that person, if He wills it? Or do you think it falls upon your witness to do that?"

The Scripture is clear in 1 Cor 9:6-10, "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals,nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God."

and in Rev 21:8-9, " But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Only through repentence and trusting in Christ will God save a person. I don't know how to explain any clearer....there is no other way.

Roland, I don't try to force Jesus down anyone's throat. Nobody has to listen to me. I don't take someone by the arm if they walk away from me and hold them there till I finish. I actually let the people I witness to do most of the talking.

I wish you lived close enough to go out me when I witness. I think then you would really understand the love and care I take when talking about the things of God.

It's really in the tone of ones voice...I want people to know I care about their eternal destiny.

WayneDawg said...

Sorry - I forgot about this comment you made...

"Trust God. Your don't have to do it. It is a joy to share. It shouldn't be a burden. At least not like the way you are looking at it."

Oh, but I do trust God. He's all I got. It's an absolute joy for me to witness; but it is a burden in my heart. God has made it plain to all Christians that they are to go and make disciples. The only way to make a disciple is to tell them the Gospel. The only way to tell them is to go out there and do it.

My burden is joy to me. God said do it...what should I say to Him, no?

MikeT said...

I can't imagine anyone who would rather talk about Jesus than help the man being a Christian. Talking about Jesus with a man in that situation should be reserved for when he is in his hospital bed, recovering, and you let him know why you took all of that trouble on his behalf.

Roland said...

Wayne,
I'm assuming you are referencing 1 Corinthians 6:8-10.
v.11 "And such were some of you..."

Only through repentence and trusting in Christ will God save a person. I don't know how to explain any clearer....there is no other way.
True. Abraham completely trusted in the name of Jesus. Even though he didn't know it as Jesus. Jacob did the same. And so did many others.
Are you saying that someone needs the name of Jesus just to meet Him and accept Him?
I used to think that, once.
There is no name under heaven whereby men can be saved.
What if they know Him, without knowing His name?
I believe that is possible. No, probable. No wait, an absolute surety. (examples cited above)

Roland, I don't try to force Jesus down anyone's throat.
I believe you. I think you go out and witness with the gifts God has given you. Many blessings on your endeavors. For both you and them. Truly.
I can tell you are concerned. It is good to see.
I can tell you are also willing to dialogue about things. Why? You don't have comment moderation. As much as I hate to say it, it shows the inability to allow others to work through issues without your personal involvement. Which means one is afraid. Perfect love does something to that fear.
That is why I believe you are so very earnest in your witnessing. But listen to things that DP has written. How would your feel if someone came up to you about giving to the poor, but did it in a confrontational manner? I'm sure you already do things for the poor. It would, whether you resist it or not, irritate you.
But that is for you to decide.
Anyway, thanks for sharing. It is a good thing.
And for trusting God, good.
But then why are you so worried about them dying before you tell them about Jesus?
Don't you think God will let them know even if you don't?

MikeT,
That is very insightful. Thanks.
Sometimes I wish I could be that concise. :)

Anonymous said...

roland - preaching "Christ crucified" means exact that - proclaiming that Christ died for sinners, to pay our sin debt, which obvious means that humans are sinners - and nobody really want to hear they are a sinner, right?
A Christian will know nobody wants to hear they are a sinner, but they are called by God to be faithful and true to Him alone - and the world will hate them for pointing out their sin. Jesus said the world hates Him because he shows the world is evil. A Christians actions should be in line with what they say, you need to "walk the talk".
Preaching "Christ crucified" also means you do not need to prove God exists, or disprove evolution, or explaining how it is possible for God to be a man, or explain how Jesus could do miracles, etc. - there is no need since everybody does know that God exist and they have a conscious that came from God (read Romans chapter 1).
I do believe God is sovereign in salvation, so all a Christian is called to do is be faithful to proclaim the true gospel, but certainly they should pray for lost people and be a good Samaritain.

In Christ,
Linda

Doorman-Priest said...

Just got back from a college day on preaching, listening and personality types. I need to process this more, but the gist is that (and this is Myers/Briggs) that there are four key personality indicators and we need to know what ours is, because it influences the approach we take... and we need to know what our audience's is - as individuals - because it influences how they respond. This has huge implications for evangelism because statistically only one in four will what you say to them and how you say it.

I will post on this sometime next week when I have fully got my head round it.

Wayne, I absolutely hear what you say: I just remain unconvinced that some people will ever truly "hear" the Gospel because of their culture programming and upbringing regardless of missionary approaches. There are very few cross cultural conversions in Britain. Why is that?

I came to Christ from an unchurched background, believing I was a Christian. I was predisposed to listen and accept. Halima is so far away from that and I doubt she CAN change. There is a difference between hearing and understanding. I have no doubt she hears, I am not sure to what extent she is ABLE to understand in the way you and I do.

Let me give a more extreme example: my friend Annie has a ministry in a psychiatric hospital. Most of her congregation are suffering from dementia at some level. (Annie has problems stopping them taking their clothes off during her services for instance.) What is the chance they will both hear and understand the Gospel. How does God judge them?

Roland said...

Linda,
I understand what you're saying. In some cases, a very direct approach like that is warranted. In some cases, it is not. Often it does more harm to the relationship and communication between to people.
But some people respond to that approach.
Use it, but understand there are other ways that are very useful as well. Such as befriending people without continually pointing out their failings.
... and be a good Samaritan.
or (in context of this post)
... and be a good Muslim.


DP,
Thanks for your insights. And thanks for giving a more extreme example. It is so hard to know some of this stuff.
I guess one could say that we could be more forgiving.

WayneDawg said...

Roland and D.P. - I would like to say that although I don't know you two personally, I have come to like you both. I really feel that if we were sitting in a room together and talking about faith, Christianity, etc. we would do it cordially and politely. I feel that both of you would listen without interupting and I would do the same. Thank you for the dialog we have....it's very refreshing to be able to talk openly without bantering. I also hope you never 'hear' in my tone any condensending or sarcasm. It's hard to 'hear' sometimes in the written world.


D.P. said in talking about personality type when witnessing...

"This has huge implications for evangelism because statistically only one in four will what you say to them and how you say it."

D.P. In all due respect for you, do you think that Jesus, Paul, Peter, Appolos, James, Timothy, Spurgeon, Wesley, Whitely, Edwards, etc. really thought about peoples personalities when they preached or witnessed the Gospel?

God is bigger than peoples personalities. The Holy Spirit convicts and leads sinners to repentence and faith in Christ regardless of someones personality.


Roland said "Don't you think God will let them know even if you don't?"

The revealing of the Gospel today comes through the preaching of it (Rom 10:13-15), there's no other way biblically. The faith of those before Jesus were through the promise of Him to come. He has come!! The world has only the Gospel of Christ to save them. There is no other way.

Wonder Woman said...

Ooooh Duckieopoo, I hadn't heard the story you posted about...

Seems rather simple of a lesson, moral, story, etc.

Apparently by all the comments I'm just simple :)

*drooling with her helmut on while licking paste off the windows*...

Whoooooooooooooooooooooosh,
WW ;)

Nator said...

I do belive personalities do have an effect on who listens, and to a large degree who tells. If your personality isn't extroverted, then you probably aren't going to go out and share with people you just met at McDonald's. You just aren't going to do it. That doesn't make them a bad person or a bad Christan. God created us all with different personalities and gifts.

Roland said...

Wayne,
Thank you. I feel the same. WE would be able to sit and discuss and learn form each other. Which is what it's all about.
As far as 'hearing' condescending sarcasm. Aren't we all guilty of that sometimes? I know I get to the point sometimes where I know, just know, I'm right. And then later realize I wasn't. And the I have to ask for forgiveness for those I've wronged. Of course, if they won't listen, it doesn't work.
And sometimes, my wife is like my conscious, reminding me of my ability to be full of myself. It really irritates me, yet I am so glad she reminds me. Ever so kindly (usually), and helps to set me straight.
You said this, "The revealing of the Gospel today comes through the preaching of it..."
Can it not be preached by our actions as well?
Just a thought.

Wonder Woman,
I like to drool as well. ;)
You don't have to do anything other than understand the smiplicity of the thing. I just happened to have gone to a fundamental Baptist church that was very diligent about studying the Bible. They were also very diligent about pointing out sin. Not very good at pointing out how God loves you. Not that they didn't talk about it, but that they didn't really know how to show it. I'm still learning how to do it myself. Now excuse me while I get myself a paste snack. ;)

Nator,
That is a good observation. Some people are so concerned about the thought of people burning in hell, that they are drawn to the warning aspect of sharing the gospel. Some are concerned about what they see around them, and help out where they can. In both cases, there is a deep concern about those around us.
Sometimes we don't always bring it across well.

Doorman-Priest said...

Wayne, how gracious. Thank you. Yes the personality thing: I'm sure those folk didn't give it a second thought - well maybe Jesus because of the special insights he had, but then I guess this sort of thinking is relatively new.

I have sat in a large hall and heard evangelists and I was enraptured. Not everyone I went with felt the same and we came away with different levels of satisfaction and understanding.

As a teacher, I feel this teaching and learning styles thing very keenly. I teach in my default style. A significant proportion of my students don't learn that way. What should I do? Adapt I suppose. When new insights like Myers Briggs comes online we need to see what we can use from it. I will be posting on this sometime soon, so hold that thought.

If I ever make it to the states again we will get together, all of us ... and I want one of your big cigars!

WayneDawg said...

Roland said "Can it not be preached by our actions as well?
Just a thought."

Well, I really do understand what your saying. Living a life that is pleasing to God and loving your neighbor as yourself is absolutely the right thing to do. But, that is not sharing the Gospel. That is not evangelizing. Anything short of telling people the good news of the Gospel is not evangelism.

D.P. - I already have a cigar picked out for you...lol. I don't smoke as much as I used to (Normally during the summer months I might smoke 3 or 4 a month). I like to sit on my rocking chair porch and enjoy a fine quality cigar. I don't have any Cubans left, but I have some outstanding Dominicans ready to go!!

Roland said...

But can't you live your life and share as the opportunities arise?
Sharing the truth is sharing the truth. And I do share as it comes up.
Funny thing is, I am the only person at work who talks about religion and politics with anyone there. I can talk to liberals and conservatives. I share the truth, without making it look like I'm evangelizing. Why? I would probably be fired at some point because of the whole problem people have with it. But if I listen to them and understand them, I know better where to go with my talks with them.
I get more chances to share and people actually listen.
When I was big into handing out tracts, lets just say people were polite. Very polite.
When I share my life with them, people are very open. It always amazes me that when I follow the Way of the Rabbi, people notice and ask. And I may not always have the best answer, but God usually has one for me. And I share. And they share.
Again, it amazes me.

j razz said...

Roland,

There was a time when I went homeless (by choice and for a limited amount of time) and I chose to write about it. If you care to read it, I attempt to give an accurate portrayal of the events that took place while I lived homeless in downtown Nashville, TN. I had rules: no money could be accepted and if I was to eat, I could only get food by way of working. ($5 dollars was taken but was reserved for a Sunday).

I did this again the following year and found both of them to be very humbling experiences and what is more, those I expected to help me did not while those I least expected help from where more than generous.

Here is my account of being homeless.

j razz