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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Bursting to share (I)

At work today, some of my colleagues were complaining about Christians and how they hate it when Christians 'try to convert them'. They scoffed at people who stand on the street handing out leaflets, and the Gideon society who leave Bibles in every motel room. I've also noticed many other blogs (such as this one) complaining about Christians and their forceful (and sometimes insensitive) methods of 'spreading the good news'.

Well, I couldn't just sit quietly and listen to my colleagues without making some sort of defence. I figured that if they heard a decent explanation, they might be slightly more forgiving.

I'm sure most people have heard the following phrase in one form or another - "God loves you so much that he sent his son, Jesus, as a sacrifice to atone for your sins, so that you can have a relationship with him". To a non-Christian, those words are hollow and probably have less literary impact than "Once upon a time". But to me, a Christian, those words have a deep and profound significance that forms the very basis of my faith.

Once, I heard a preacher describe how a person might become a Christian.

The first way he called 'Lydia's Conversion' (Acts 16:13-15), which more commonly occurs with people who have been born into a Christian household. In this way, conversion is a slow process, with the person understanding a little bit more at a time, until one day, full understanding is achieved. It's like walking towards the sea in the early morning - it's dark, and the sky gets a little brighter with each step you take until the sun comes over the horizon and morning comes with the dawn.

The second way he called 'Jailer's Conversion' (Acts 16: 16-34), which usually happens with people who are not born into the Christian household. Conversion is sudden and instantaneous, the person listening to the gospel and suddenly it all seems to make perfect sense. It's like walking through a forest on a rainy day - suddenly you take one step out of the cold forest, the clouds have parted and the warm sun is shining gloriously down on you from above.

Now in both methods of conversion, there is also a positive change of behaviour associated with it. I could go into that a little bit more, but it would take me off on a tangent.

Why do Christians feel the need to tell people about Christianity?

It would be meaningless to throw about phrases like 'the great Commission'. Yes, yes, Jesus did command all Christians to tell the world about him, but our motivation is also largely personal. I'm not a mindless drone just carrying out instructions for the sake of it. I have got Personal Agenda, okay.'s the lowdown on our motivation.

Firstly, we've discovered what we think is the most amazing piece of news. Maybe to you it isn't, but to us it really is *something*. Who in their right mind would keep something this exciting to themselves? It's like a juicy piece of gossip but oh SO much better.

If I was walking with a friend down Abbey Lane and I saw a polar bear, I would probably get all excited and say to my friend 'Look! Look! It's a polar bear!'. I'm sure you would do the same. Sharing with somebody can sometimes double the joy that one feels (unless you're one of them peoples who hoard treasure, in which case you're either a selfish pirate or a lonely dragon or both).

Of course, my friend has the option of either saying 'you seow (crazy) ah? Polar bears don't live in London!' and then ignoring the polar bear, or looking where my finger is pointing and seeing it. Two possible reactions - one of disbelief and one of curiosity. The first way means you miss out on something potentially amazing, the second way reveals the truth.

Secondly, Christians consider the Christian message to be the single most important thing in the whole world - which means Christianity is the most important thing in their lives. It's only natural that our conversation is takes on a Christian slant. Our whole world is tainted with God, so to speak.

If you want to have a deep and meaningful friendship with a person, then you might expect he or she to be candid and honest with you about their dreams, worries, thoughts, feelings. So if that person is Christian, they probably ought to be talking to you about their faith - because it means so much to them.

Lastly, Christians believe that when a person dies, they can go to heaven or to hell. I don't know about this purgatory stuff - you will have to speak to a Catholic to find out more about that.

People ask me all the time 'so you believe that when I die, I'll go to hell?'. My answer is such: when a person dies they go to the place where they have chosen to go - and I can't predict what a person's choice will be, but I can tell you what my choice is. The Christian idea of heaven is the place where God is present, and therefore hell must be the place where God is absent. You can see why Christians say that hell is a terrible place - because it would be the worst thing we could ever think of to be separated from God *foreverrrr*. A non-Christian has obviously chosen to be in the place where God is not - and I must assume that this is the choice they prefer. Again, I could go on a bit more about this, but it's much too long a tangent. Another time, maybe.

Anyway, to get back to the point, Christians who care deeply about their friends will also realise that their non-Christian friends are heading for a different place in the afterlife. Eventually (when they get up the courage), they'll try and convince their friends to choose to go to the same place. Why not? It's worth a shot. Personally, I would love to go to heaven at the end of the world and see all the people whom I love there as well. That would just be so awesome. Chilling out with my friends and having fun with them for all eternity yaaay!!! So you see, it's all about my own Personal Agenda; I'm so selfish, I know.

Okay, I know I've left out quite alot of other things about evangelism, but I think I've written enough for today. And besides, it's dinner time and I'm hungry for rice porridge. Part deux tomorrow!



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