Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sharing

I have engaged a few people on blogs and in my life that have an interesting approach when talking to others.
One friend of mine in particular, always wants to tell people about Jesus.
He gets very excited about it.
And he knows that if you don't believe in Jesus, you'll go to hell.
He tells people that all the time.
I can cite the 'Way of the Master' as one of the approaches he finds that appeals to him.

People who follow that approach always liken it to telling someone they are driving toward a cliff they can't see.
They are just trying to warn and help them.
And I can understand that point.
Yet I keep thinking of a line from 'Princess Bride',
"Do you always start conversations this way?"

When Jesus was around talking to people about God, he did warn people about hell.
I won't deny it.
But that isn't how he started his conversations.
He talked to people, but even more, he listened to them.
He was actually interested in people.
Not just keeping them from the hellfires of damnation.
He actually was concerned about who people were.
And what they did.
Read about Zaccheus in the Bible and you'll see what I mean.
Or you could read about Nicodemus.

It isn't necessary to read those, but notice what happened.
The people he talked to, were looking for him.
They sought him out and he listened and talked with them.
He didn't run up to them scaring the hell out of them.
It isn't HIS way.

I could be way off base.
I'm sure some will tell me I am.
But to be honest, I am having trouble figuring out how to have a good relationship with someone, if you are the one doing all the talking and pointing out how wrong the other guy/gal is.
I used to be much more like that.
One guy I know compared me to Rabbit from Winnie the Pooh.
That guy was right.
Sadly, nobody really likes Rabbit.
Not even if he's right.

People do like you, if you help them with a problem, and they ask for help.
They don't, if you think you are going to fix them, and they didn't want your help.
It's true.
Pay attention and watch people sometime.
It will amaze you.

Anyway, I have a poll on the side.
Take time to answer it.
Or not.
And thanks for listening to me.
You have no idea how encouraging it is.
Then again...,
maybe you do.
Thanks again.

17 comments:

Doorman-Priest said...

Hmmmm. I know what you mean, but recent events in the blogosphere may not make me the most objective commentator.

Nator said...

I am very put off by people trying to change me. It could have come from my unhappy childhood! ;) But when people, especially people I don't know real well, start telling me to read this or how much I have messed up, then I just shut them down. Don't even listen to them. If someone I know, though, does the same thing there is a much better chance of me listening. Someone on the street would have no chance. That includes door to door!

John said...

It goes more to the question on why people blog and what their objective is when they are out in the blogging community (outside their page).

First, blogging is an extension of my research and areas of interest normally. I try to write in a way to either provoke thought or provoke response. Sometimes I write just to build a case . Sometimes it is to get opposing opinions and get inside someones head on trying to understand them.

I came over to take the survey but none of the answers fit. Provoke thought, challenge would be my answers. I like to know not only what others think but why. It normally takes a follow-up or two or three to get to that type of understanding.

Craig said...

I don't think you can approach everyone the same way. Each person will react differently. Some people need a direct approach while others tend to react better to subtlety.

Obviously this is difficult on a blog because if you post something that comes off offensive, they may never return.

Wonder Woman said...

People who tell me the God's honest truth, whether it's bad/good/indifferent is whom I listen to the most.

Not at first mind you. First off I'm usually too pissed to "hear" them. And then, I settle down, rationalize, and throw a little logic into what was said to me.

If it's true. I fold... and attempt to become encouraged to learn a lesson!

Phew, with all that typing...did I mention men with sprouting pubes from their banana hammocks make me smile inside?

Craig, "comes off offensive" me, never...

La, la, la...

Geppy said...

Well, since I view everything in Creation as relational (with God, with man, with nature) - it is hard to think about telling people how they have it wrong without getting to know them first. It's just not a good relationship tool.

Roland said...

What answer would you include in the survey, John?

MikeT said...

Personally, I like telling people where their cultural understandings of Christianity, and what Christianity teaches are different. Like with my family, I emphasize the fact that Christianity has a humanistic streak in it because Jesus and the apostles tell us to not abstain from good food, sex in marriage, etc. as though that makes us holy before God. Rather, we can fully enjoy the physical world and be holier than an ascetic eastern monk in the eyes of God.

One of the signs that you're saved, from what I was taught in the Presbyterian church is that you understand scripture and who Jesus is, in a way that is not really possible for a non-believer to grok. You actually know Jesus' character because the Holy Spirit allows you to pick up from scripture a real picture of what Jesus was like here on Earth, just like a relative you knew.

I had an interesting conversation about hell with a woman at Starbucks who's very liberal. She asked me how God could be loving and sentence people to hell. My response was that God doesn't send us to hell, we send ourselves there. Everyone has sinned, but God offers us a way out through Jesus Christ. She asked me how I thought it was fair that you got forgiven after a bad life like that, and I asked her how she would feel if God had an arbitrary number of sins that would get you damned to hell. Let's say it's 1,000 sins. I asked her what the difference was between 999 sins and 1,001 sins. She agreed that it was not worth counting, and I said that God agrees with her! That's why God doesn't care how many sins you've committed, so long as you submit to Jesus. God IS more merciful because 1 sin is too many, and yet 1 or 1 billion, they can all be thrown in the spiritual trashcan like they never happened.

WayneDawg said...

My new blog friend Roland, did you write this just for me? ;)

I agree with Wonder Woman; if you are telling me the truth, no matter how bad it may hurt, then I am going to listen.

Roland - You talked about how Jesus approached people before he started sharing with them. You're right, Jesus didn't walk right up to people and start telling them about hell.

But, neither does the approach taken by the folks (and me) at Way of the Master. If we did, we would not be witnessing like the Master did and would have to change the name.

I have never, never heard one conversation in four years start with telling people about hell on the WOTM program, any of the teachings or anyone using that approach (law before grace).

I'm not quite sure why you keep insisting that that is the way its done. It's not.

Iterestingly you bring up Zaccheus and Nicodemus.

You know what Jesus could do that we can't? See into the hearts of men. Jesus, being God, already knew the heart of the folks He talked to and, of course, those He didn't talk to.

Zaccheus was a man who God was going to use to show the 'upright and outstanding proud hearted' Jews that Christ came to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). Jesus knew this mans heart, but more intentionally, Jesus used this occasion to stir up a pot by going into the house of a sinner (oh my) and giving him salvation.

Nicodemus was a ruler of the Jews. A man very astute in his education and knew the Law inside and out. Nicodemus was different than his Pharisee brothers; he sought Jesus out by night, in secret. If he were caught talking to Jesus without the rest of the brethren there he would have been thrown out of the 'ministry'.

Jesus also knew this mans heart. Jesus knew this man had practiced the Law inside and out so there was no need for Him (Jesus) to go over that point. Jesus went straight for the born-again experience a man must have in order to obtain the Kingsom of God.

But Roland, don't miss this....Jesus did give Nicodemus some very bad news in verse 18 of John chapter 3...He said, "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."

This is plain to Nicodemus...he knew Jesus was talking about hell plain and simple.

The Way of the Master folks also don't 'do all the talking'. In my witnessing encounters, I like to let the person talk as much as they want. But I never start with "you're going to hell", and neither do the folks at WOTM. And to keep saying they do is very insincere and inaccurate.

Jesus didn't tell us in the Great Commission to go out into the world and wait for someone to ask you about Me. No, He told them to go out and make disciples. We make disciples by witnessing to them and if they repent and trust in Christ then they become a disciple.

If you have your own method or way of witnessing to people that's great. But I absolutely believe a person must hear some some bad news before the person can understand the Good news. If a person does not know they are a sinner and going to hell (you have to say the word)how is the Gospel going to make any sense?

Just telling people to believe in Jesus and everything will be A-Ok is making a false convert that will fall away when hard times or struggles come their way. A person needs Christ for the sole purpose of escaping God's judgment on the day of wrath. Now that's biblical!

Roland said...

MikeT,
Very good observations. And you'll notice that you talked to and listened to her. Your care for her showed in your conversation. And I can tell, because she stayed (that's a biggie) and she even asked questions about what you were saying (that's huge)
That is very encouraging. Thanks.

Wayne,
Actually, only a little bit is because of you. :) There is someone specific that I know in person who I was thinking of when I wrote this. IF he stops, he'll know.
And your way of witnessing is good. But you've seen the WotM videos, right? I remember a specific one, where after the kid admits all his sins, but isn't sure about this Jesus thing they seem to ridicule him. No, they did make him look ridiculous. Not everyone who follows that system is trying to do that. There are some like you who are earnestly concerned with the person. That is great.

As for witnessing. Is not my life a testimony? Do not the things I do reflect the glory of God? Even just a little? If not, then my words won't mean much. And I'm not talking about whether or not I'm as righteous as a New York governor. I'm saying that I go out and help the poor. And I don't even do it as often as I should. I give of my excess. And I don't even do that as well as I'd like.
I'm selfish. We all are. Even the scriptures tell us to take care of ourselves. Yet I wonder if I could do more. And also know that even if I don't, it doesn't mean I can't do what I'm able to right now.
People need to know about Jesus, but why would they listen to me? Why would they listen to you? Just because we know the truth? They think they already have that. We all do. What sets us apart? That we preach salvation? Many do that as well.
So what sets us apart?

I'm trying to better understand the how's and why's of things lately. I'm just one of those kinds of people.

Out of curiosity, does think Rabbit from Winnie the Pooh is their favorite character?

Pablo said...

I agree with your take. There's a time for direct confrontation but as everyone should know, "you attract more flies with honey than with vinegar".
Listening to people and genuinely caring about them opens the door to sharing the gospel message far more effectively than any other approach.

WayneDawg said...

Roland said - "As for witnessing. Is not my life a testimony? Do not the things I do reflect the glory of God? Even just a little? If not, then my words won't mean much."

Yes. Your life is a testimony. But, let's not confuse how you live your life with sharing the Gospel.

Yes, a godly living testimony and sharing the Gospel are intertwined, but, sharing the Gospel is actually speaking/preaching the words for someone to hear.

Living a godly life is what we're supposed to do anyway if we are saved. But sharing the Gospel is what I call witnessing, and the only way to do that is by speaking or preaching.

Pablo - I hear what you're saying and I agree to a point...but, you have to remember that the preaching of the Gospel, according to the Bible, is offensive to people. So there's no real way to make something offensive taste like honey. You can cover and smother it with honey all day long, but in the end, it's just going to be distasteful to most people.

Wonder Woman said...

I like Tigger the bestest!

Does it show?

By the way, I LOVE SHARING, body parts with my husband, OFTEN.

I'm just a sharing kinda gal ;-P

Morgan said...

See, Roland, this is why I've always liked you. You are smart and genuine enough to know that the whole sanctimonious approach is more turn-off than invitation. And the sanctimonious preacher type is just asking to be outed for the hypocrite he or she probably is.

The We're-All-Flawed-So-Come-As-You-Are approach reminds folks of the approachability of Christ, and his chief commandment to Love One Another.

I always appreciated Christ's quiet, to-the-point put-down of the crowd eager to stone the sinner.

So many Christians don't want to acknowledge Christ's lessons regarding approach. 1.) Do so with humility and 2.) Pay as much attention to fixing yourself as you pay to fixing others.

Roland said...

Pablo,
I was thinking you and I would see this similarly. Thanks for the input.

WW,
Good for you. Sharing is good. I'm sure your hubby agrees. :)

Morgan,
Thanks. I appreciate your insights on things as well.
I don't mind drinking the kool-aid, but I DO want to know what's in it first.

Wayne,
Think about this in regards to honey. The rabbis covered the slates of their young pupil with honey. Why? To get them to understand the idea that the words of God are as sweet as honey. (They got to lick it off and eat it, it wasn't just for display. :) )

And what if I say all the right things, but don't live it quite right?
What if I say prostitution is very bad. And make a war on it. Yet get caught up in it.
I doesn't change things about it being wrong, but people are much less likely to listen to me if I fail.
Doesn't mean we should quit trying, either. But when we tend to focus on sin instead of salvation, we are missing the mark. Not that sin isn't in the equation. It just isn't the answer.
I completely understand where you're coming from. But try to look at it this way. Let's say you just got out of church. A Buddhist comes up and tells you about a better way. He tells you the way you are following is wrong.
Are you going to listen to him very well?
Probably not.
If instead, he comes up and tells you about some great things that Buddha did, and wonders if you might like to talk, you will be far more apt to listen.
As a matter of fact, if he lets you tell him about Christ first, and you get to talk and he listens, you would probably be even more likely to listen.

I'm not saying "Don't share."
I am saying, try to listen first and see where it leads.
I have yet to see someone who loves a know-it-all. Unless they actually DO know it all.

Can you see the benefit to this style, yet?
You don't have to jump on and agree with everything, Wayne. But can you see any Phillipians 4:8 in it?

WayneDawg said...

Sorry Roland - Actually, I would let a Buddhist talk to me about why I should share his faith....I would let him talk without getting mad or interupting....but...when he was done I would show him the error of his religion and show him that his transgressing the Law of God has put him in the direct path of the God of justice. The I would point him to the cross where Christ died for him so he wouldn't have to face that wrath on judgment day....if he wants to come and watch how I live that's fine with me! But him watching how I live will never get him born-again...no matter how rightously I try to live.

but that's just me...

Roland said...

Wayne,
Now you've gotten to the point.
You would both be at odds.
Both trying to be right.
That clarifies a lot for me.
I'm going to be out of town for a couple of days, but you have given me food for thought.
For that I'm grateful.