Has this ever happened to you?
You’re at some religious function (I don’t do these any more, but the memories are strong), and as part of an ice-breaking game, you’re asked, “What three books would you bring with you on a desert island?”
So hard. So hard.
Pride and Prejudice? Jane Eyre? The Lord of the Rings Trilogy? Any Agatha Christie novel?
Harry Potter? Nah, I’m just joking on that one. Although I suppose you would need toilet paper.
The key thing is that this is a religious function, and someone out there is sure to say, “The Holy Bible,” at which point, everyone else is obligated to include that as one of their three options.
Or if you’re asked, “What are your three favorite possessions?” someone will feel compelled to say say, “My salvation in Jesus Christ.”
The three living people you most want to meet? While you’re agonizing between Benedict Cumberbatch and Tommy Lee Jones, someone intones, “The Lord Jesus Christ.”
“You said living people.”
“But the Lord Jesus Christ is living. Or didn’t you know that?”
Ouch. Such love.
You get the idea. There go one of the three options, and you feel like a heathen because you didn’t think of it first, you were so busy thinking about earthly, fleshly, irreligious, heathen, barbaric things.
And while you really have never thought of yourself as a barbaric heathen, you must be, because you didn’t get the right answer first.
You’re okay. I’m okay. Just focus on saying the name, “Cumberbatch,” correctly, because a mispronunciation would be most unfortunate.
If you are steeped within 21st century evangelical Christian culture, you may consider the random name dropping of Jesus to be normal, even a sign of the name dropper’s deep spirituality, but I assure you that people outside of the closed group are not drawn to Christianity by this subterfuge.
You casual name droppers? You’re not as subtle as you think.
Several years ago, The Norwegian Artist entertained a small group of visitors in his studio. He’s remarkably laid back about this, and although they gave him ten minutes warning, he graciously set away his brushes and invited them in to tour.
After 45, 46 seconds or so, it became obvious that they weren’t there to view paintings so much as to extract “secret painting techniques” from the Norwegian. (This might be a good time to mention that the Norwegian Artist’s secret painting techniques are these: he reads, thinks, analyzes, loves, laughs, and paints a lot. He gets up when he falls down. He works through problems until he solves them, and he considers failure an integral part of success.)
But that’s not what these guests were looking for:
“What do you do with this?”
“How did you get that color?”
“Can you show me how you do that?”
One question, or two, is one thing; 30 minutes worth of questions is an art lesson.
But these people weren’t about to pay for an art lesson. They wanted free, and speaking of free, salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ is free as the Norwegian Artist found out when the guests dropped His name:
“After this, we’re heading to the Joy of Jesus event in Big Town.”
They looked at him sideways to make sure he got the message: Jesus name dropped, we know Him, you’ll want to know Him too.
All the Norwegian Artist really knew is that five people had spent the last 30 minutes trying to extract free painting secrets from him. He smiled politely, wished them good day, ushered them out, and waved.
Yes, they made an impact. Quite a memorable one, actually.
Just saying the name of Jesus is not the secret of drawing people to Him. If there is a secret, it’s this:
Read, think, analyze, love, laugh and live.
Steve Henderson’s Art may be found by hitting the following links:
Evangelization at it’s lowest. I’ve never cared for door to door evangelization. These people prey on the weak and overwhelmed. They latch on, pull you in with your money and your resources, and then announce there’s only room for xxx amount of people in Heaven. Will you be allowed in?
That said, I’m on my way to a meeting at my parish to discuss ways to make our church more hospitable as we try to reach out to the “unchurched” and “dechurched” of our community as it was delicately put in our bulletin. Happy to hear Steve wasn’t caught in their web and hoping that 30 minutes wasn’t enough for a proper art lesson.
Hi, Margie — actually, I think Steve would have been happier if the people’s primary goal was evangelization. Sadly, these were well-meaning Christians who were more interested in getting something for free and assuaged their consciences by dragging Jesus into it. It takes so much to hammer into our heads that our actions are so much more powerful than our words!
I am glad that you and your parish colleagues are looking to ways to reach the unchurched and de-churched — personally, I like the term Independent Christian better, which is how we re-classified ourselves after leaving the traditional fold. (Really, we only need the term in trying to describe ourselves to other people; before ourselves, and God, the word Christian works just fine.) For what it’s worth, one thing we found sadly missing in the corporate experience was fellowship — true, spontaneous, uncontrolled and not managed by the leadership fellowship, which is what many people in this isolated society of ours crave.
Also, even the term “corporate,” which I used above for classification, is part of the problem. Too many churches pattern themselves after today’s business model, and it doesn’t take much thought to realize that today’s business model is not kind, loving, peaceful, joyful, or gracious.
That being said, I am glad that there are people like you who recognize that there is a problem and who are looking for a way through it and past it. We are the salt of the earth. What is food without salt?
The Norwegian Artist is right. If some people would pay attention to when Jesus said to judge him by his Works, not so much words, the would act in a more Christian manner.
So right, Dianne. But it’s so easy to depend upon external factors — like our very words, or simple actions like what we wear or how, what we eat, what shows we watch — as opposed to the unseen, meaningful things — truly listening, admitting when we don’t know, humbling ourselves before God and our brothers. That’s why many of us have so many years on this earth to practice!
Thank you, Candace Rose!
Great choices but what struck me is the Bible. People easily forget what really is important in this world. Today, you reminded us of a priceless treasure for one’s soul. Have a great weekend.
Thank you, Island Traveler.