A month ago I attempted to be a good Christian girl and joined my church’s Evangelism Explosion class. Despite my initial rebellion against doing hours of homework and a scripted presentation, I decided to give it a shot.
Our first night out, we met a recent college grad who let us know she was a practicing Catholic. My team leader launched into his 30 minute presentation, and concluded with, “So would you like to trust Jesus?” The girl replied, “I already do – every day.” This threw my leader. He stepped back, massaged the bridge of his nose, inhaled loudly through his nostrils and responded, “Yes, but do you really want to trust Jesus.” At this point the girl kindly declined and went back inside her apartment.
My team leader concluded that Catholics are the hardest to witness to because they are so indoctrinated and closed to other beliefs. I responded that it could be she’s more postmod than Catholic given that she said she respects our path but wanted to remain on the path she was on. The TL took her ideas on pluralism to mean she was hopelessly lost, but I interpreted it to mean she was searching for truth and simply latched on to whatever path made the most sense to her.
I quit EE after that night. I couldn’t help but feel like we were targeting people for the purposes of upping our headcount rather than seeking to simply share God’s love with people. I wanted to return to the college girl’s apartment and apologize. I also wanted to ask her what she found attractive about the Catholic church because I really haven’t encountered a devout Catholic before. I wanted to know if she experienced a closeness with God or if she was more into following rules and rituals. Perhaps she still would have chosen to remain with her path but I would hope she wouldn’t have felt like a target.
So what is it about engaging lost people in conversations that terrifies most believers? Why was my team leader more focused on running through the script than actually asking questions about their background, beliefs, fears, needs, etc.? Is it possible to talk with someone who believes there are many paths to god without offending or condemning them, but also in a way that clearly states our beliefs? And why is it an us vs them thing anyway? As my jefe says, the Gospel is really about one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.
I know all the stuff about how we are saved by faith and not by works, and that God loves us how we are where we are no matter what. And I really thought I was secure enough in my relationship with God that I didn’t fear His rejection or disapproval.
But try as I may, there’s this ingrained theory within me that still says I have to be good enough to earn God’s love and approval. When I go 3 or 4 days without praying or spending time with my Father, my first feeling is guilt. I then feel like I have to come crawling back to God, roll over in submission and do some kind of penitence before He’ll hear my new prayers.
I also fear disappointing Him. Mike and I have been investigating various fertility treatments since it ain’t gonna happen the old fashion way. We have lots of options to choose from, but there’s this nagging fear that keeps prompting me with doubts. Should we pursue medical intervention or should we wait for God to perform a miracle? If we seek intervention is that the same as Abram and Sarai creating their own plans to have a baby (through a slave)? Are we circumventing God’s will and timing by pursuing other methods to have a baby? By turning to science and doctors, are we turning away from God and faith in His ability to make this happen? And, I think the biggest question, will God bless this or are we leaping off a cliff out of His will and away from His blessing?
Then a revelation from the LORD came to (Elijah): “Leave here, turn eastward, and hide yourself at the Brook Cherith…”
Then the word of the LORD came to (Elijah): “Get up, go to Zarephath … and stay there.”
Have you ever had to rely on God for step-by-step instructions? The Bible says God’s word functions as a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path, but, frankly, I’d much rather have a spotlight.
If life is a journey, then I feel like the last year has been a crawl through darkened mazes with nothing but a lighter to guide my way. There are times I’m tempted to despair and quit moving. It’s not like I’m making any progress, anyway, and I’ve probably spent the last year walking in circles – much like the children of Israel during their 40-year desert vacation.
But today I heard someone share about Elijah’s life and how this revered prophet also experienced a time when God revealed just enough information to get Elijah to the next destination. There was no big picture revelation or hint at what was to come. Yet Elijah was faithful to follow God’s sparse directions each time God spoke. This all occurs in 1 Kings 17.
Just one chapter later, we read about Elijah’s public and humiliating defeat of the prophets of Baal. During the battle, Elijah announces that his God is the one true God, and he challenges 450 prophets to a contest. The prophets dance, sing and pray all day long in hopes of getting Baal to consume their offering with fire. Finally exhausted, they sit down and relinquish the stage to Elijah. Elijah pours water over his sacrifice and fills the trench around his alter with water. He makes one supplication of God, and bam! God sends a fire that consumes the offering, alter and water.
I’ve often wondered how Elijah had the faith and trust to publicly challenge the prophets to a showdown. Perhaps his ability to trust in God was established from his years of following God one step at a time and finding God faithful at each destination.