Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Jesus For Sale

I remember the moment so vividly... Walking up to complete strangers, strangers enjoying their vacation on the beach, as one of my youth walked beside me holding a frisbee with a bible verse on the back of it.

"You guys want to play frisbee with us?" the student asked the strangers, only after being instructed by me to do so.

For the next 10 minutes or so we enjoyed playing frisbee with these two teenagers, but now it had come time for our (rehearsed) "pitch".

"If you guys died tonight do you know for sure that you would go to heaven?"

Well, you know where this is going. About 3 minutes later, the two boys had earned accepted their ticket into heaven. My youth and I then walked away never to see them again. However, it was worth hearing the applause that night in our youth meeting after telling everyone we had scared led some people to Jesus. The Bible verse covered frisbees, along with the Holy Spirit, had done their job. I'm sure the threat of eternal damnation in hell if they didn't accept Jesus had something to do it it as well.

I think back to all the other similar situations, and am honestly embarrassed. Yet, this is the only method of evangelism I was ever taught growing up in the church. Go door to door, invade peoples home, take up their free time on vacation, and give them some sales pitch.

And yes, I know some people end up praying the prayer... But that's because it's the only way to get you to leave their house. I know how it works. Once the prayer is said... You leave, you mark them off the list, and you give a praise report to the congregation on Sunday where everyone can applaud your bold faithfulness and your ability to successfully sell Jesus to other people.

We all know how it feels when people come to our door. Whether they are selling satellite subscriptions, encyclopedia's, home phone plus Internet bundles, or religion they all have several things in common. They are there to push a product, they have a rehearsed script, and they are all annoying as hell.

At least the satellite people usually have the decency to leave if you are in the middle of dinner or have company.

Making a conversion is not biblical evangelism. No where does the scriptures tell us to go into the world and get people to say the sinner's prayer so Jesus can live in one of the four chambers of their cardiac organ.

It actually says to go into the world and preach the GOOD NEWS and make disciples. But notice how we usually focus on bad news like damnation and hell when we tell others about Jesus and the so called gospel. Why? Because fear is easy to sell... and it makes us feel good when someone buys what we are selling. Which is why our "sales pitch" always begins with the "consumer's" potential geographical locations after they breathe their last breath.

Neither Jesus, the disciples, Paul, or any other person found in the scriptures ever "preached the good news" in this way. Instead they proclaimed the kingdom of God, and they didn't dwell on what would happen one day after they died. No, they were excited about what God was doing then and there and what that meant for the rest of the world... past, present, as well as the world to come.

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