Friday, October 23, 2009

I could have done better

I just had a very unsatisfying exchange with a Jehovah’s Witness in a Safeway parking lot.

The young lady was smiling and soft spoken as she handed me a tract. I immediately accepted it and quickly turned to the back to see if it said “Watchtower Society” somewhere in the fine print. But it was already getting dark and my eyesight isn’t the best, so I just confronted the issue head on.

“Thank you very much,” I said. "What church do you go to?"

“I’m a Jehovah’s Witness.”

I wasn’t sure what to say next, so I blurted out, “I’m afraid I don’t subscribe to Arian theology.”

“What’s that?”

“I’m afraid you don’t have an adequate understanding of who Jesus is.”

“Oh we believe He is the Son of God.”

“Well, good. Do you believe that He died for your sins?”

“Oh, yes.”

“Well, meditate on that.”

That was the conversation as best as I can recall. I found it terribly unsatisfying for a number of reasons. First and foremost, though I don’t think I was rude, I was nowhere near as friendly as she was. I could make lots of excuses for it. I was in a hurry, as I was out specifically to run an errand for some zucchini, without which dinner preparations were being delayed. Also, I have been under the weather all week. And perhaps I have allowed myself to get sucked into a contentious mood as I have recently been sparring in the blogosphere with atheists and socialists, and their ad hominem attacks were starting to get on my nerves.

Long story short, I don’t think I was a very effective witness for the Gospel, in word, deed or attitude. Also, I’m not quite sure how to deal with Jehovah’s Witnesses and other cults that have some rather strange and erroneous beliefs but otherwise believe a number of things with which I have no quarrel. What if, despite the strange teachings to which they are exposed and to which they might subscribe, they truly believe and trust in the one thing that Paul describes as fundamental?

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” (I Corinthians 15:3)

I suppose it's possible for someone to believe all kinds of crazy things and yet, when it comes to who and where they place their trust for their eternal destiny, still correctly know that Jesus is their only hope. In the same way, it’s possible for someone to know and assent to the glorious Gospel and never come to true faith and repentance.

I will leave it to God to sort it all out. But I still need to do a better job representing Him.

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