We’ve all been there, right? Maybe you attended a NFL game, a concert, or perhaps you were just driving down 9th street in Walla Walla, Washington, and there standing on the corner (or on top of a milk crate with a megaphone) was someone literally screaming scripture at you. Perhaps they were even holding up a sign saying you were going to Hell. Or maybe they tossed in an extremely graphic and innapropriate picture book into your child’s Trick-Or-Treat bag.
It’s not easy expressing your faith in this highly politicized world we live in. It takes courage and confidence to reach out and share the Gospel, I fully understand that. When I was in 4th grade I overheard a boy in my class tell his friend “Jamie is a Jesus Freak.” In his defense, amongst all the different colored Jesus fish keychains on my backpack was one that said “Jesus Freak.”
If the shoe fits…?
But it was the tone in which he said it that left a burn inside my heart. Little did I know at the time that I would feel the burning from that sting, time and time again as I grew older and my faith roots dug deeper. Now that I’m an adult, I’m no longer picked on or bullied by kids in my class but I am sometimes labeled and judged for being a Christ follower. I get how difficult it can be to express your faith and then feel the backlash from it. Sometimes I feel like I need to sensor people before I’m about to mention the “G” word. But I also understand your passion! I understand your desire to share your faith with others and to lead the non-believing.
But friend, you’re doing it all wrong. You’re missing the big picture.
In 1 Corinthians when Jesus said “Be an example of me, for I am an example of Christ,” he didn’t mean for you to scream at his children through a megaphone. He didn’t mean for you to hold up a sign on a street corner. And he certainly didn’t intend for you to fill children’s Trick-Or-Treat bags with scary images of demons (yes, this happened to me and in some form, it’s probably happened to you). From one Jesus Freak to another, you cannot scare people into a relationship with Christ.
Perhaps all your sign says is “Jesus Saves”. Very true. But to the non-believer (which is who you’re trying to target) that means absolutely nothing. And chances are, they aren’t going to walk up to you and ask for a deep meaningful conversation about it either, because they don’t know you. You are an absolute stranger to whom they have no connection with. Do you see what I’m trying to explain? I’m not trying to quiet you, no. I’m trying to show you more constructive ways to be louder.
I believe your heart is in the right place and your intentions are good. Your goal is to draw people in, but instead you’re driving people away. Take that passion and that energy you have and use it in a way that’s productive. Use it in a way that’s not threatening or misinterpreted. Instead of spending hours on your soap box in downtown Seattle, spend that time volunteering to lead a bible study group at your local Christian Aid Center. Perhaps you could take the money you spent on your poster boards and Sharpie markers and toss it into the offering at your church.
I believe God has a plan for your life and I have no doubt that he’s called you to minister to others. So please, put down your megaphone and do what Jesus did. Walk alongside of the believers and the non-believers. Let Jesus shine through you by loving others unconditionally, selflessly and honestly. Lead with love and grace. Be the salt and the light that he has intended for us to be. If you start with that, meaningful and authentic relationships will follow. Opportunities will arise and doors will open when you will have the chance to bring faith into the conversation. But you have to whole-heartedly engage with people. You cannot develop relationships when you’re standing above the crowd, towering over the people you are trying to connect with.
I wrote this message to shed light on a failing tactic that has been on my heart for years. I hope and pray that when the opportunity arises, I will have the courage to take a step and engage with that person on the soapbox, in a way that’s honest, compassionate, nonjudgemental and Christ-like. Finding ways to share about my relationship with Jesus in this polarized world is something I will always be working on. We will never be able to master it because (spoiler alert) the culture we live in is constantly changing. I’m a sinner just like you, trying to be salt and light.
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What does it mean to be salt and light? You can find out by clicking here. WAIT! I want to give you a full disclosure that this link will take you directly to our church’s website where you can listen to some of the best sermon’s I’ve ever heard. Don’t worry, I don’t have any crazy computer coding ninja strategies to trap information about who clicks on that link. I have no intentions of dragging you to my church. I’m simply placing it here for those who want more.
Holiday Decor & Inspiration blog post coming soon!