I was scolded by a lady at the park today for not sharing Jesus with her.
She was a little on the shortish side, African American, and had two gold front teeth. One had a star shape cut out of it, and the other had a heart. Her only companion was a short dog named Charlie Brown. He looked like he had some Chihuahua in him. Oh yes, and she was wearing a long skirt. I think that's what did it. You see, I also was wearing a long skirt and my hair was up in a bun. South Louisiana summertime makes me dress like a prairie girl.
I immediately loved this woman, and I truly believe she loved me, too. I don't think she approached me with a judgmental attitude, but one of sincere love and concern for people. It is a genuine conviction of hers that we should never pass up a chance to share Heaven with someone. She must have recited 20 Bible verses to me in our brief encounter. I was inspired by her passion.
The thing is, a few years ago, I would have been both offended and put off by her approach. I wasn't too sure how I felt about Jesus, and I doubted the sincerity of anyone who tried to win people over to their side and add another badge to their Jesus club belt. Fortunately, this was a short leg of my journey, and I now understand that while some have selfish motivations for sharing the gospel, others are truly genuine, even though often misguided.
I know our culture is an increasingly post-Christian one. Of the growing number of people that do not claim faith in Christ, more and more of them count as de-churched instead of un-churched, meaning that they somehow got jaded along the way. They've heard about Jesus, but they've seen him misrepresented so much that they don't really know who he is. Traditional ministry just won't get through to them. I know that this pains God's heart. I feel drawn to these people. They need to see our faith lived out before they hear about it.
Does this mean that a more direct approach is outdated or wrong? I don't think so. As I walk this long road of redemption, I learn more and more that this world is full of diversity. Each person has different needs that match up with another person's abilities or resources.
God is a mystery, and he's a personal shepherd. Who am I to decide how he gets to use someone else? Then again, who am I to decide how he gets to use me? I pray that I am constantly being challenged and inspired by strangers and friends alike to examine my faith, share it, and run with abandon this race marked out for me.