Jesusians

A Courteous Contrararian

Don’t, just…don’t

Written By: Jon - Jun• 29•12

 

Cartoon by sidewiseinsights.blogspot.com

Most of us dislike making decisions. Inherent in the process is the possibility that we can make the wrong decision, and so each looming decision is accompanied by a certain degree of dread. I wonder if Mr. Bush didn’t end up being the Decider because no one else liked the job title.

My pastor says we should never make a decision when tired or depressed. That seems like good advice. But what a person is always tired and/or depressed? it may be why some of us put off decisions indefinitely.

I’ve done this; put off my decision altogether while a deadline passes, yielding my will to whatever the default decision happens to be. Examples of this are voting by not voting or staying with the phone company that takes an automatic draft from my bank account each month.

I’ve grown fond of an alternate method when faced with a choice; I put it off until I have time to consider all sides. Then, when the deadline arrives, I often find that I haven’t spent much time on the problem anyway. I decide, hoping that my unconscious has had a chance to work on it, or better yet, that the Spirit will answer my last minute prayer arrow and imbue me with momentary Heavenly Wisdom.

I’ve been thinking about decisions because of the damage we can do when we force another human being into a decision, especially one they’re not prepared to make. I’m talking about our Christian witness. The verbal kind.

How audacious we can be, some of us, and how presumptuous. To decide for or against Christ is a life changing decision and yet we think little of foisting it on acquaintances, or even strangers. We wouldn’t ask a stranger to invest their life savings with us, after 20 minutes of testimony. We wouldn’t ask an acquaintance to allow us to change the dynamics of their marriage. Why would we think we have the right to force people to make an even more important choice? Because in our mind, we are making them choose. Choosing against making a choice is a wrong choice under the very parameters of our presentation!

No wonder people get miffed. They instinctively feel this logic trap, although they may not identify the gambit. We tell ourselves ‘the world’ is offended by the very name of Jesus. That’s probably not it. Unless they have been forced to make this choice previously, and then the mention of Jesus would be their first clue that it is happening to them again. With no way out. Because no matter at what point they stop us, we have by our own definition made them reject a shot at eternal life again.

We take evangelism classes and keep an eye out for homework. We think forcing someone into a decision for or against Christ is a good thing. It can’t be. Here’s why.

Choice is a blessing, a wonderful gift from God. Unless he is deceiving us, or has an unfathomable sense of humor, he allows us to make real choices. Deep inside, I know my bad decisions are mine, and so are a fair number of the good ones.

God even tells us about the choices some of us have made, they interest him. A & E had the first choice, Cain had the second, and it’s been choice, choice, choice, ever since. Most of the choices aren’t either/or, with both alternatives Sovereignly Arranged. Usually we have a wide range of choices.

Once we choose, however, God – being God – can attach a blessing or a curse. If he decides to attach a curse, he always warns us first. In the Bible. The book that believers are expected to read. He also warns unbelievers in the Bible but he doesn’t expect them to read about it.

So here’s the thing. There are intimations in the New Testament that, when taken together, seem to warn that there may be a worse fate for those who reject Christ than for those who never hear his message. The man who knows the Master’s will and doesn’t do it will be beaten with many blows, while the ignorant man will be beaten with few. This infers that punishment is relative, which only seems just.

You may take exception to my example, believing it only to apply to believers, and you may be right. Except that the same man under discussion, the one beaten with many blows, was also assigned a place with the unbelievers. This complicates our theology greatly. Was he a believer, as we just postulated, sent to Hell? Or did he join those unbelievers in some other place? Maybe Purgatory.

If a Christian can’t go to Hell, and there is no Purgatory, then we would have to surmise that either unbelievers can go to another place, or that they face gradations of punishment. If Jesus is speaking of gradations of punishment, then the person never faced with a choice will fare better than the person who was witnessed to and rejected the message.

A more compelling argument, although admittedly a more obtuse one, exists in the early chapters of Romans, where Paul tells us of four different types of people and their eternal fates. There are the reprobate (Romans 1:18-32), the Jew (2:17 to 3:20), the Christian (3:20ff), and the person who has never heard about God (2:6-16). That last type of person has a better shot at an honorable immortality than the one who rejects God.

So, when it comes to witnessing to others, don’t. Just … don’t. You’ve been warned. We can no longer say, “Forgive me Father, for I knew not what I’ve done.”

 

I’m not suggesting we become secret agents for the Lord. One of my goals in life is to make as many people as possible aware that I believe. (I’m also on a quest for mercy. I absolutely love mercy.) By proclaiming my status as a believer while looking to give and get mercy, I fulfill my responsibility. In my mind that’s it, I’m done, that’s the rule.

There are three exceptions to the rule, as far as I can tell. The first is for an evangelist. The evangelist knows they are an evangelist. Dave the Webmaster has seen hundreds of people graced with Christ, maybe more.

The second is if the Holy Spirit compels. We should know if he does. Compels is a strong word. We should be led, like the prophet who said,

But if I say, “I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. – Jer 20:9 NIV

 

The third exception is the best of all, the one that can be the most fun, and indescribably exciting. It is when we are asked about our status, the one we’ve made people aware of. Then we can  be ready with an answer for the hope we have within. Then we can become a witness.

Does a witness stroll through the courtroom and help herself to a seat in the witness box? Or does she perhaps prop one buttock on a railing or the court reporter’s desk, and launch into a monologue? No. She waits quietly out of the spotlight until called. And then she answers questions she’s been asked. She doesn’t ask many questions and she doesn’t force the prosecutor to make a life-altering decision.

My way is kind of simple, huh? When we get saved, we automatically tell someone. We declare our status. They tell us getting saved makes us a Christian, and from then on we tell others we are a Christian. We are only giving some form of our profession of faith whenever the opportunity allows. Jesus’ yoke tends to be easy.

After that, we can either to wait for some exciting question as we live our witness, or we can force ourselves to force someone else to make the biggest decision they will ever make, whether they are ready for it or not. Whether the Spirit has made them ready or not.

 

 

 

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