Friday, October 27, 2023

A Conversation

Loving fellowship, laughing with those who laugh, crying with those who cry, and being present is enough. It is. I grieve when I think about how many in the church believe that it isn't evangelism unless you have a conversation about Jesus and salvation. Brothers and sisters, let me be clear - loving one another is evangelism. Jesus said plainly, they will know we are Christians by our love for one another. Not by how good we are at having a conversation about Jesus. 


I think sometimes, it's important to have the conversation. It's important to talk about the things that we believe and know and understand, in contrast to the things that may be presented by our encounters in life.

Now, there's a very important caveat buried in here. And that caveat is that we have conversations that stem from what we're actually engaging in, not from the whole grand giant scheme of all things Christ and salvation. 

There's a certain ethic that wants to say, okay, I engaged in your thing, now, you engage in mine. I watched your show/movie/listened to your music, so now, it's time for you to hear me out about something that's important to me. And then, we try to launch into a grand narrative about everything we know about Christ, leading to severe conviction of sin and hopefully, repentance. I don't think the track record of this kind of "evangelism" really pans out. 

I think bringing someone to Christ, or at least to an understanding of Him, is a much slower process that happens across several conversations, not just one. 

So, for example, this tv show that my niece said I definitely wouldn't like because I'm "very Christian" describes itself as having an underlying theme of the Antichrist. Or an antichrist. Or whatever. So it would be rather natural for me, while watching the show or after watching it, to have a conversation with my niece about the biblical truth about the Antichrist, what it represents, how it plays a role in my theology, and so forth. I don't have to talk about Jesus. I don't have to talk about salvation. I don't have to talk about anything but what's been offered to talk about - but I can provide her an alternative perspective on a biblical truth than what Hollywood, having hijacked the idea, can come up with. I can start to introduce her to another story. 

And that's all it really takes - an introduction. Introduce the story. Use a touchpoint from culture, from your engagement. The questions may naturally flow from there. Or maybe a simple seed has been planted and the questions come much later. Maybe we have that conversation and it turns into a dialogue. Or maybe we have that conversation, and six years from now, my niece comes back to me and says, "Hey, do you remember that time we talked about the antichrist? I was thinking..." Whatever happens, it's fine. 

And, it should be said, her biggest memory of that moment will be that we were in it together. 

I hope. 

This is the kind of talking we just need to get better at. This natural kind of talking. 

To spin it another way, a parent in my local city's chat recently asked about a Christian magician who came to our town. Their kid had come home with free tickets, but they were afraid of being "evangelized" and having Jesus "shoved down their throats" if they attended the performance, but their kid really wanted to go. So they were asking about just how much Jesus this magician incorporated into his show. 

My response? Go to the show. If the Jesus aspect of it is not what your family is into, have that conversation with your kid about what you believe and why and how it's different and what's important about it for you.

We've gotten so afraid as a people of engaging anything that doesn't 100% line up with what we already believe, and most of us couldn't articulate what we believe or why any more. But we should be having these conversations. We should be able to have these conversations. They are important. And they are part of being able to engage the culture around us, even if we only ever have the conversation with ourselves. 

Fellowship is enough. It is. Being present is enough. Loving one another is enough. But sometimes, there's an opportunity to talk, too. And when there is, we must be ready to be thoughtfully engaged.   

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