Thursday, September 21, 2006

"There's the rub"

So here's the "rub" (problem), how do you tell people the truth? 1st when they really don't want to hear the truth, 2nd because they think they know the truth, and 3rd because they think truth is subjective (basic relativism, your truth may be right for you, but mine is right for me).

Right now I’m speaking particularly about witnessing to others, but this is a universal problem with even simple issues. Do we put too much emphasis on opinion making it more important than truth? I mean just because we have the right to an opinion doesn’t make that opinion right, and without clear moral guidelines and reasoning’s for that opinion shouldn’t we question it?

In “A few good men” with Jack Nicholson (Jessep) and Tom Cruise (Kaffee), Kaffee says “I want the truth” and Jessep responds “You can’t handle the truth!” But in reality it is just the opposite. It’s not that we can’t handle the truth, but that we really don’t want to hear it because it may mean that we don’t have it as “all together” as we thought we did. Or it may even go as far as meaning we might have been wrong.

This means as Christians we have to know what we believe, and why we believe it to be an effective witness. But even deeper how can we relate it to those around us that may have little or no Biblical knowledge (thereby having no frame of reference to understand the Scriptures) without coming off sounding like a “religious nut”?

The rub here is twofold; 1st Christians need to realize that we are no different than the people we are trying to bring the truth to. (If you didn’t get it, we are ALL sinners and deserve death! So we need to understand that no matter who it is, except for Christ as man, they are our equals!) 2nd we have to be able to relate to those outside Christian circles by understanding the world they live in. (In other words get our heads out of the sand of “Christianese” and start living in the world! Now be careful, I said IN not OF. We don’t have to accept the loose moralities of the world, but if we don’t understand where people of the world are coming from we have no frame of reference to know how to witness to them.)

But back to my first question, how do you tell the truth to those that don’t want to hear it? Do we just accept them as lost? Maybe we hope that some day they may see the benefits of a Christian life lived before them? Or do we go on banging away at them with the potential of making Christianity look pushy? I really don’t know the answer to this one, because there is no pat answer for it.

I often feel that some Christians evangelize because they see it as their job, or as some way of racking up points in heaven. I also feel they lose site of what is truly important in evangelism too, Love. God loved us enough to give His Son to save us from our sins, and Christ told us to love our neighbours. We need to be witnessing because we love people and don’t want to see them lost to hell, not only because we were given the task of spreading the Gospel.

This is where relationships come in. If we are in relationship with the people we are trying to witness to, we have more insight to how to witness to them, and even more importantly a reason TO witness to them, LOVE. Don’t mistake me here, I don’t believe we are called to witness to only those we can love or agree with; but we are called to love everyone, however we don’t love everyone we meet or know because our values and/or opinions may differ enough to cause this division. It’s a matter of differentiating the values or morals we find inappropriate or offensive from that person, and then loving the person even though they hold them. (Easier said than done I find; I know I still struggle with this. I even struggle with this with other Christians, especially with the touchy feely, wishy washy Hyper Charismatic ones. No offense intended.)

I think one of the saddest and hardest things for me lately was when my neighbour said “I don’t need to be saved from anything”. This is a nice guy, and it is apparent that although he lives a life in the world, he tries to live by a higher set of ethics. So to hear him say this made me very sad for him, because he really doesn’t understand that there are consequences at the end of this life (and I got the distinct impression that my neighbour has been pushed at by "religious nuts" in the past). Mainly I see the reason behind this attitude as not wanting to be accountable to anyone but themselves, and when they are only accountable to themselves they can’t understand that there will be consequences no matter how good a life we try to lead. So my reason behind this post is really to work out how to witness to him in a way that he would find accepting, and until I know him better I won’t know how to do it (and maybe to help someone else work through the same or similar issue.)


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