His shirt was too big for his skinny frame. The giant tie dropping down the middle of his chest didn’t make matters any better, but it seemed to be the standard for what he was doing. He hated when the stupid thing flopped around in the wind between houses, but he detested it less than the suitcase he lugged around with him. The old, tan canvas box got heavier as the day progressed, even if he made any load-lightening sales.
He was young and energetic. That’s how he got the job- and something about his baby-face complexion made him convincing, especially to older women. Door-to-door sales were less than desirable, but everyone had to start somewhere. He imagined that after he’d become a seasoned vender in his “item of the month job”, he’d transition into real estate or car sales.
The briefcase probably only got heavy because every time he talked about what he was pushing, he realized he didn’t believe in it. He wouldn’t buy this garbage for himself. Initially, he thought he liked the idea of the challenge, but several months of laborious conversations on stoops and in front doors led him to the understanding that he had to lie to unload crap, which he didn’t like.
The young man knew that salesmen were supposed to get excited about things. It was their zeal and ability to communicate it that was supposed to win people over and get money out of their pockets. But it just wasn’t happening for the poor guy. But he kept at it. He had pressure to succeed. Bills urgently needed to be paid and he wanted to save up for a down payment on a house. His boss frequently insisted that he meet his daily quotas. The other salesmen did the same, though they all envied and mocked anyone who actually hit the mark. None of them believed in the products they sold. Success in this industry was earned by weasels.
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Who hasn’t experienced pressure to push Jesus? Church leadership sees empty seats on a Sunday and desires nothing more than to fill those spaces. So they put it on the congregation to fill them. Some print touch cards and tracts (terrible ideas, if you ask me). Others have classes on evangelism. Still more put on programs and events, hoping that an excited congregation will invite their co-workers and friends. I’ve even seen prizes for the man or woman who can get the most people to show up.
I can’t say whether or not any of this is wrong, but I will tell you that I believe genuine evangelism comes from an excited heart. After hearing and believing John the Baptist’s testimony about Christ,
The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. (John 1:41, 42 NIV)
Finding the Messiah is a big deal. Or at least, it was to these young men, so they told those closest to them about their discovery. Ideally, it should be no different for you or me, or any other Jesus-person out there, but many of us would describe ourselves as more of a Willy Loman than a Billy Graham when it comes to sharing our faith with others. This is terrifying, because when it comes to proselytizing, people seem to be able to tell when you’re faking it, just like horses and small children can perceive the fear of those around them.
Are people that unexcited about God, or are we just focusing on the wrong things? I think the push to get people into churches and out of hell might be part of the problem. I mean, avoiding eternal flames is exciting, but truly, that’s beside the point, isn’t it? I could be religious and cite a lack of actual relationship with the Christ as another problem, and it might be true for some people. Fear of man is a great excuse, but we stand up to each other about the stupidest crap all the time, so how could that be the reason? It’s complicated and there probably isn’t any answer that works for everyone.
I am terrible at the “go up to a stranger and tell them about Jesus” kind of evangelism. Not only is it way outside my ability to do well, I really don’t believe it’s effective at all. When it comes to relational evangelism, sharing my faith with family and friends, I am much better. I see evangelism less as filling seats at a church or a duty, and more as walking with someone through the journey,
“I see evangelism less as filling seats at a church or a duty…” But Jason, filled church pews are a fruit to healthy evangelism 😉 So are more tithes, by the way. So get to it!
Hi Jake.. You are always providing us great post and this one is very timely.. Well I can relate to this but I guess its not that hard for me to share my faith..
Thanks for another provoking post, Jake!
To tell people about His story without taking the time to listen to theirs is arrogant.
It is far more exciting and adventurous to respond to the leadings and promptings of the Holy Spirit each day as we pray for God’s family to grow – than responding in a heartless way to the pressure of insecure church leaders who derive personal significance from counting the number of souls that are gathered in a building on Sunday morning.
Sean, you’re entirely right. I mean, maybe this is pushing it, but aren’t all of our stories His in one way or another anyway? I mean, the Christ died for each of us, which firmly places Him in each of our lives, even if the decision is that someone does not want to follow Him– the offer was made. Perhaps that was a little too weird, but then again, He made each of us. He loves each of us. The things that happen in a person’s life are important to anyone who genuinely loves them, aka THE ALMIGHTY so we might as well listen. Even if we don’t like it, we might learn something, at the very least, yes?
I just want to tell you Jake how thankful I am for sharing your thoughts, I could use these topic for my group this sunday