Feeble Knees

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

How Not to Witness

Staring at me from across the park, the woman strode purposefully towards the place where I sat on the grass, enjoying the sunny summer day and the live worship music. Her jaw was rigid with determination as she marched across the lawn, swiftly closing the comfortable distance between us. You just knew no good would come of this.

Watching her bold and steady advance triggered my fight-or-flight response. What did she want? Should I sit here? Should I run? Am I in trouble? Mummy!

I fought the urge to snuff out my cigarette. Maybe that was it? Maybe she had a problem with my smoking? It sure looked like I was in trouble for something. Her gaze burned with intensity as she stood over me. With a booming and resonant voice she demanded: "Do...You...Know...GOD??"

Oh good grief!

Reading this post at A New Life Emerging made me remember this sister and our first "chance" meeting at an outdoor service held by my old church. She truly wanted to win the lost for Christ, regrettably she just had the spookiest ways of going about it.

Within the space of about two short years I was probably rivaling her for spookiness and inappropriate evangelistic tactics - from the spontaneous testimonials I gave at work, (during work hours) to leaving tracts with restaurant tips and more. I once chased a homeless man down a Main Street in Nashua trying to give him food because I thought God was telling me to witness to him in this way. He was wearing a winter parka in ninety degree heat, shuffling along with what appeared to be all his worldly possessions bound up in a bundle on his back. Yet it was he that looked at me with suspicion and fear. His bewildered eyes said it all. "Who *is* this crazy woman and why won't she leave me alone?"

How did this happen? How did I go from being the one rolling her eyes at the "God-woman" at the outdoor service to being just as wacky? If it there is a reward for being a fool for Christ, I expect I have one heck of a booby prize awaiting me in heaven.

New Life Emerging, in the same post, talks about Christ's fellowship with sinners and how he sat down and ate with the unlikeliest people, concerned more about the state of their souls than their manner of dress or speech. Looking back this seems so contrary now to how I'd go to a friend's wedding ceremony and skip the reception, or leave just after the meal, before the dancing started. I followed my pastors example in this. They felt that by sticking around at such a wedding would make it appear that they condoned the "sinful" practice of dancing. So they split. (Let me tell you, it was always interesting to hear them explain their way around Jesus' first miracle at Cana.)

It's been kind of humbling to look back on all this stuff. I am grateful that Jesus has not forsaken me, even as I've made a complete arse out of myself and probably have done more harm than good to His good name at times. I've never heard anyone tell me "gee, that time you refused to come to my party because we were drinking, gee that really impressed me and inspired me to follow Jesus myself."

How do we go about this business of glorifying God? Somedays I think trying to bring glory to Christ is rather like bringing coals to Newcastle - He was and is glorified by God already. I'm not sure, but I think it has something to do with reflecting that glory, in the form of lavishing love and compassion on others.

It has got to be about reflection - God's love is embodied in Christ, and Christ's life and work glorified God by reflecting well on God. The Holy Spirit's ministry is to reflect the goodness of Christ in our lives, hearts and minds. I should be the embodiment of Christ's spirit at work in us, and this in turn should reflect well upon Christ and God. It is as if we are a series of prisms positioned in such a precise way that the goodness and love of God reflect upon each prism, then each prism in turn radiates that light both outward to our fellow man, and inward, back to the source of light which is God himself.

I do not have to try to *be* the light. I don't have to work it up or manufacture it, any more than I could duplicate the work of the Sun. But I do want to reflect that light. I want Jesus to glance off my imperfect life and illuminate the dark places so many others travel through. Lord, help me...
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