Monday, May 25, 2015

The Baby Whisperer

So, we took a trip Easter weekend to visit one of Daniel’s cousins. His wife had their second little one about… a week before Easter? Something like that? (So… if we’ re being honest, we were really going to see the baby!)

Anyway, Pitter Patter, who talks up a storm, really, desperately wanted to communicate with the new baby - and with the best of intentions, she tried to meet him where he was and talk to him in his own language.

Artists Conception of Baby's response: "It's a monster!!!!"
After all, she still spoke “baby” fluently enough. Hasn’t been all that long since she was one. So she got down in the baby’s face, where he could see her, smiled congenially, and said, “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!”

And while the adults were all dying laughing, she kept yelling until the baby responded to her (probably in terror!) and needed to be comforted.

Too often, we are so proud all that we have come to understand in our study of the faith, that when we try to share that knowledge with those who haven’t studied as much, we come across just as well as my daughter did trying to talk to that baby.

I’ve been on both sides of this problem. Well-meaning people try to show me by argument that the Church is just plain wrong about “whatever their pet issue is”, but clumsily approached in such a way that I wouldn’t have gone over to their side even if I had been convinced.

I’ve also been the person who laid out the biblical evidence for one theological point or another, but… let’s just say I wasn’t terribly pleasant about it. Have you been this person before? Have you met them?

If you were a bystander, did you say something to the faith “baby whisperer”? What was it?

I’ve often heard it said that the Gospel is offensive enough without me to help it along in that regard. Paul says the Cross of Christ is a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, and he also gives extensive lists of virtues to adhere to and vices to avoid.

You’d be surprised how difficult it is to put chapter and verse to the idea of being nice when you’re evangelizing. The closest I’ve found are these:
  • “Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that, though they malign you as evildoers, they may see your honorable deeds and glorify God when he comes to judge.” (1 Peter 1:12)
  • “In your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil.”(1 Peter 3:15-17)
Maybe this notion of not helping the Gospel offend people is one that’s somewhat of a tradition. (Wink, wink!)

We all want to be able to share Jesus with those who don’t know him, but it is critical that we do so in such a manner as to lead people to realize that they not only want him, they need him.

After all, we are going to be telling them that in order to have him, they need to let go of their pet sin (we all have one, don’t we?). They have to give up things that they may have been used to for ages, things like superstition, grudges, jealousy, binge drinking, rage, immodesty, lust, and lots of other things besides. These things might have been so deeply ingrained in them that they don’t know who they are without them.

It’s important that we be able to meet people where they are and talk to them in terms that they can relate to. That’s step one, but there’s a part B: to let our behavior be above reproach in those conversations, that people will not refuse Christ because of us.

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