Christmas is here, so why not a little note on evangelism, or 'How to Lose Friends and Irritate People' (c'mon, you know it's true). This is one stage (the Christmas pageant) where people may dare listen to the Christian message?
In reality, we can shout it until you're blue in the face, that the evidence is out there and yet ears are closed... willfully. Mine were closed for some time and I thought I had it all figured out. Yes, I was incredibly independent and original believing what most of my other peers believed (*cough* not).
Granted, I had never heard the gospel plausibly presented before and I suspect for a preacher to present the gospel plausibly to people now-days is to have to do three hours of apologetics prep first, and who is going to sit around to listen to that?
But is it time to give up on those that we're praying for?
Same old questions, same old hard hearts
Some time ago I had been watching a talk from William Lane Craig (Christian philosopher, if you want to sharpen your intellect fast look him up) and when it came to question time two people got up and asked the standard questions: who created the Creator? And how could there be a God when there's evil and suffering in the world?
Honestly, there are simple and adequate answers to both of these questions but there are some that think themselves incredibly witty by bringing them up again and again whenever the gospel is preached. Now there are those who question because they're looking for satisfactory answers and there are those who question because they think it'll make a mockery out of the Christians they ask.
Now here's where I get personal. There are two mindsets that are erroneous and that do more harm than good. I have surely personally been guilty of both of these and I apologise to anyone I have driven away from genuinely taking Christianity seriously because of it. I do doubt however that my actions of zeal have been responsible for someone I know ignoring the claims of Christianity. If a person is really seeking, they will find—as that old adage goes.
Now onto the mindsets: there's the 'just proclaim the gospel' one and the 'I'll win them through argument one'. As for my own conversion, it was hard for me to pinpoint when I stopped being a self-conceited know-it-all trying to disprove Christianity to my 'gullible' fiancé and when I became a genuine seeker of truth.
But make no mistake, that change needs to take place before someone can even listen to the gospel. We are told that God works on the heart to produce that change but that Christians are also supposed to be there as salt and light to guide people.
Getting down to business
And the point of this? If you are telling the gospel to the same people who are already getting annoyed with you... stop... but only stop vocally. Stop repeating it and live it. Ring your friends and family to let them know you care. Apologise because you are not as good of a friend as you could be. Lend money. Do favors. And by all means if they come to you asking questions 'know them'.
It is the job of every Christian to be an apologist. Pick up some books, peruse them when you get time and teach them to your children.
As Jesus said to His disciples: if someone rejects the gospel, shake the dust off your feet and move on. Be there for that person but we have to know when to let go. The evidence is out there as I found out and by all means stress that and share good websites and books with friends and family. If they don't read what you supplied, they're not seeking. We cannot make them seek.
It may break our heart, but if we have done all we can maybe it's time to stop. Be salt. Be light. If they seek they will find us.
One more warning. Just because someone is making an open mockery out of God and you as a believer does not mean they are not on the brink of becoming a seeker. In that case, stand strong and answer objections. Look them up as they come but don't be silent! I was a chief mocker. So was Paul.
But if the mockery continues once you have supplied adequate answers then it is time to shake your feet free of the dust. I have been on countless debate forums where you answer someone and then they just reword the same objection or come back with something as futile as: 'well you would say that wouldn't you?' or 'that's just your opinion'. That's your cue to start a shakin'.
Keep evangelising by all means... but not until you're blue in the face.
Bridget Brenton has been researching apologetics, philosophy and the paranormal for years. You can check her apologetic effort out at 101arguments.com
Bridget Brenton's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/bridget-brenton.html