Sharing the Faith

John 13:35

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Those are Jesus’s very own words.  And I don’t think that there is any more concise statement of what Christianity should look like to be found anywhere.  How should people know that we are Christians?  By our love, love, love, as the old campfire song says.  My brothers and I used to cough into our hands and say “t-shirts, t-shirts, t-shirts” during the chorus, as at Bible camp it seemed that wearing a loudly “Christian” t-shirt was a requirement if you wanted to be taken seriously.  And now, fifteen years later and a whole lot of life experience later, there are still moments where I see church groups “Evangelizing” out around town, all wearing matching loudly biblical t-shirts, and I catch myself singing that old tune again.

Sometimes I sing it “they shall know we are Christians by our pamphlets, yes, they shall know we are Christians by our pamphlets, pamphlets, pamphlets…”

Then there are the questions, asked by other Christians, meant to hold us accountable to our need to “evangelize”.  Questions like, “when was the last time you shared the gospel?”  or “when was the last time you witnessed for Christ to your neighbors?”  When asked those questions I generally falteringly reply that I don’t really make a point of doing such things.  I try to live my witness and live my gospel daily, in my temperance and temperament and willingness to share and care for others, even if it’s something as simple as letting a little old lady struggling with her groceries to cut in line.  It’s not the moments where we blindside someone with gospel tracts, shouted slogans and pictures of mutilated fetuses that will win hearts and minds to the Lord.

It’s our love, love, love.  We are to be known not for our huge congregations, our bulging coffers, our well-worded slogans, our catchy worship tunes, our contemporary language, our well-reviewed media, our “40 days” of this and “Month-Long Focus” on that and “NEW SERMON SERIES!” whatever and horribly archaic sayings on our letterboards.

And for the love of all that is holy, we are NOT to be known for our bumper stickers!  (Especially as we are cutting people off in the fast lane.)

What did Jesus say?  Seriously, WHAT DID HE SAY?  There are times that I want to stand on the rooftop and scream it.  What do the gospels REALLY SAY?  I’ve read them so many times, and every time I am struck by how Jesus first demonstrated tolerance and compassion, and then required obedience.  He never said “obey or burn”.  Certainly we must take the parables into account, but in every case where people were left outside in the streets where there is great wailing and gnashing of teeth, it was because they themselves brought their judgment down upon their own heads.

Which is slightly different than a gay couple innocently walking into Wal-Mart, or a teary-eyed desperate teen going to get an abortion because she feels lost.  Imagine, those two examples- imagine how they feel when literature is abruptly thrown in their faces.  Imagine, instead, that someone took the time to introduce themselves, speak compassionately, maybe buy them a soda, maybe take the time to hear what these passing strangers have to say.

Imagine instead of saying, “I have a message for you [FROM GOD]”, if we said, “how can I help you have a better day?”

Because, honestly, when we beat people upside the head with the Bible that’s not “sharing our faith”, that’s emotional assault.  Sharing our faith is what we do, every day, without thinking about it.  And a sad amount of the time it’s not our faith we’re actually sharing- it’s our lack of it.

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8 thoughts on “Sharing the Faith

  1. I’m going to build you a pulpit girl!

    “Sharing our faith is what we do, every day, without thinking about it.”

    Yes, I couldn’t agree more. I hate to admit this, but I use to be one of those t-shirt wearing, phamplet passin’, slogan lovin’ Christians who would do street “outreaches”. I often wondered what good I was actually doing. I soon found out……none!

    As you say, it is what we do everyday without thinking about it. It’s those selfless acts that we do for each other everyday because we want to…..because we love.

    Great post Lindsey

  2. I love you, I do, I love you so much. I thought I was the only person who felt this way. Really I did. I wondered what the whole point of free will was if all it meant was that you were going to get bullied into believing what someone told you to OR ELSE.

    “Because, honestly, when we beat people upside the head with the Bible that’s not “sharing our faith”, that’s emotional assault.”

    Yes. YesyesyesyesyesyesyesYES. Ubuntu, girlfriend.

    Everyone has their own path to walk and everyone will come to understand faith on their own way. I am not vested in people getting in lockstep with my beliefs. It does not affect me, personally, what you believe about what happens when you die.

    Are you a good person? Do you do unto others? Do you help your neighbor and open your heart? I sure hope so. And the best part is, you don’t have to even believe in God to do so. Nor do you have to believe in my version of God to do so. Nor do you have to subscribe to every belief I have about religion to do so.

    Do good. Be excellent to each other. Be ready to support others when they fall. Love love love.

    Preach ON.

  3. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Seriously, these are the same thoughts I’ve had over and over again. In answer to your statement about the gay couple and the pregnant teenager, I think, “How can I help you have a better day?” is the message from God.

  4. You’ve stolen the words out of my soul, my thoughts and beliefs, you have summed it all up in such a profoundly beautiful way that I am stunned. You’ve even got me saying “Amen” and as you know I never do that. Thank you for this post, it really touched my heart and soul. You are one of the coolest chicks I know and I love you to bits and pieces.

    Seriously wow, so glad we “related”

  5. Hayden; the problem with the “do good” philosophy is, how do you know if your doing good enough?

    Narrow is the road and narrow is the gate.

    Just because it’s narrow doesn’t mean we can’t enter into it. Just because the road is narrow doesn’t mean we can’t hold someone’s hand and help them along the road. But honking your horn and screaming at them will obviously chase them away.

    It reminds me of those anoying automobile commercials. I am sitting calmly watching my fav TV program when they cut to this commercial and the sound coming from the announcers voice makes me take note to make sure I DON’T buy from him!

  6. “Hayden; the problem with the “do good” philosophy is, how do you know if your doing good enough?”

    People pretty much can agree on moral codes – don’t murder, don’t rape, don’t steal, don’t lie. The first step to being ‘good’ is by not doing ‘bad’.

    The next step is to be a good neighbor, be kind, be considerate of others, be generous, honor your commitments, and love others.

    I don’t think that’s all that narrow of a path. Someone who exhibits this is someone I want as a neighbor regardless of their religious beliefs or lack thereof.

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