Yesterday I had to run to the grocery store for what felt like the bajillionth time this week. As I was dragging my youngest girls through the parking lot, we came up on a couple of older,(respectfully), ladies in what appeared to be an intense conversation. As we got closer, I realized it was one sided and the non-verbal party seemed totally detached, like she couldn’t wait to make her great escape. Just as we started to pass by, Chatty Cathy leans in, so close the other woman could probably smell what she had for breakfast, and hissed “Jesus is coming…” followed by Lord only knows what because I picked up the pace. The poor woman bobbled her head and cut her eyes with a silent plea of “get me out of here”. I’m pretty sure she wasn’t contemplating her salvation or where she was going to spend eternity.
On another occasion, also quite recently, we were driving down the road and passed a dude with a megaphone in one hand and a Bible in the other, shoutin’ and shakin’ that Bible like he was about to beat someone with it. He didn’t look like a man who loved the Lord, he looked angry, mean and crazy!
In both instances, I had to shake my head a little as we rushed by. What on earth about cornering someone in a parking lot and literally hissing in their face or screaming like a lunatic at a busy intersection makes someone think they’re winning souls for Jesus?! I was mortified. It is possible to share the love of Christ without trying to scare the ever-loving bejeezus out of people!
I love the way The Message translation words the following verses from 1 Corinthians, (paying special attention to the words in bold):
“Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!” (9:19-23)
In my opinion, becoming a servant as it implies here simply means to put someone’s needs above our own. I’m not of the opinion that we can never put ourselves first, doing so would seriously deplete us and prohibit us from doing any good. I do think we can all be aware of the needs of those around us and do our part to alleviate the strains and pressures that are within our means. And instead of screaming and shaking our judgy fingers at people, how about we meet them where they are and try to serve them in a practical manner. To me, trying to understand life from another’s perspective and offering hands-on assistance speaks much louder than a megaphone dripping with hellfire and brimstone. I truly believe that we can never go wrong when we choose love over criticism, judgment or hate. Seeing people who claim Christianity acting a fool in public is nothing new and there’s not a whole lot we can do about it. But what we can do is try to be a different kind of Christian, one who is more concerned with loving and helping our brothers and sisters than we are about cramming Scripture and fear down their throats. After all, not everyone will understand a Bible verse but everyone can appreciate a good deed done selflessly.