Rob at ConNiPtionNs wrote a post inveighing against "witnessing":
I don't really get this "witnessing," but I am subjected it to it quite often. Do these people get points for talking to people about their version of christianity? Do they get even more points for converts? Didn't Jesus say:
And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. - Matthew 6:5-6
And I do think these are two different issues: the hypocrites who make a show of their "piety" and prosyletizing. However, I think many of the same people practice both. Jesus sent his followers out to proclaim the kingdom of heaven is at hand to the lost sheep of the house of Israel and not to pagans or gentiles (who they referred to as "dogs and swine"). Jesus said that he was himself "sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matthew 15:24)
At any rate, I agree that bad witnessing is incredibly annoying to be subjected to. I've been subject to a lot of witnessing of all kinds lately, mostly voluntarily (I am a seeker, after all), and it seems to me that what makes good witnessing effective, and yet what also makes it difficult, is that you don't just talk, you need to form a relationship. Some people with a conversion story did it on their own, but most people talk about friends or relatives or lovers or whoever who persuaded them over a course of time. I don't know of anyone who's been converted by someone on a street corner or who knocked at their door. In fact, I had a reporter friend who did a story on the Jehovah's Witnesses in our area, and he found that many people he talked to who'd been door-knocking for years had never won a single convert.
I suppose such converts probably exist; there are all kinds out there. But that's the point. People come in great variety and their spiritual paths wind different ways, and yet many proselytizers bring a one-size-fits-all message. This is what the Bible says. This is the right way to live. This is what Jesus did for me, so this is what he'll do for you, if you'll just stop being so obstinate.
At the other extreme, you sometimes find the attitude that everyone follows a different path, so this is something you should figure out on your own. I did that for some years, and some people seem to prefer that. But personally I find that the support and, yes, the witness of faithful people I know has been helpful to me spiritually. Even though I argue with them a lot, they've showed me a lot of ideas and viewpoints that I wouldn't have figured out by myself. And they also show me I'm not alone in seeking, which you can get to feel like, if you come from a background as secular as mine.Posted by Camassia at June 23, 2003 05:43 PM | TrackBack