I had an interesting opportunity recently to do an uncommon confession of faith. Well, uncommon because it was out of church. I confess my faith every Sunday in church. But I was being challenged by someone to confess what I believe in contrast to what she believed. In some ways, perhaps I’m a bad Christian for not doing this more often. I’m not very good at giving myself opportunities to talk about my faith with people who disagree with me. It’s most common in this part of the country to NOT talk about your faith with people who might disagree with you. Politeness? Aversion to conflict? I’m not sure why. But regardless, I’m not spending most mornings on my front stoop trying to convince someone of why she should stop trying to convert me.
I have to give the two Jehovah’s Witness missionaries some credit. It was a cold and rainy Saturday morning. They have been to our house many times. BestestHusband made the mistake(?) of inviting them in to debate theology a few months back. He’s good at pulling out the Bible and pointing out exactly WHY he disagrees with their teaching. In fact, while I was talking to them at the front door, he was in the back room getting the Bible ready. So they stopped coming for him. They started coming for me. The first time, I took their pamphlet politely and excused myself to attend to the kids. Then I thought a bit about what I would say to them the next time they came.
Now, I understand that people tend to think that their church or denomination is the best way to worship God. It’s a natural thing. I grew up in the Lutheran church, derive joy from worshiping with the Lutheran liturgy, and continue to grow in my understanding of the “whys” of our theology. But I would never argue that "Lutherans can go to Heaven, but those Methodists are just screwed." I don’t need to "convert" other Christians. Even if I don’t agree with the finer points of their theology, they confess a faith in the same God as me, and honestly, I seriously doubt that ANY denomination is absolutely correct about every detail of our understanding of God and His will for us. Our God is just too great, His ways are not our ways, and any assertion of anyone that THEY know what God REALLY means seems like folly to me.
So if someone comes to my door with a Bible in their hand and tries to convert me, I’m automatically suspicious. They already know that we are Christian. For pete’s sake, BestestHusband pulled out a Bible and read it to them. I’ve told them that we attend church, read the Bible, and even teach Sunday School. Now, I know that doing these things does not guarantee a strong faith in God. But it should convince someone that I might have a few strongly-held opinions on my faith. And perhaps their missionary energies might be better spent on someone who hasn’t heard the Gospels, and doesn’t profess a faith in Christ. Bottom line: If you’re trying to use the Bible I already read to “convert” me to your religion, don’t bother. We don’t share an understanding of the Great Commission. We don't share an understanding of who Jesus really is. I don’t want to go to your church. Please go try to convert someone else.
While I won’t be sending any money to the JW Missionary Society, I can’t deny that perhaps their act of placing a Bible in someone’s hands will lead to the salvation of someone that wouldn’t happen otherwise. The Word is powerful enough to do that, even if the people placing it in your hands ignore certain parts of it. But that scenario does not apply to our household. We’ve tried to make that clear.
I attempted several times to close the conversation nicely and send them away. They were impressively persistent. “Do you think that God meant for us to live in a world that is the way it is now?” She was referring to all of the world’s ills: poverty, war, disease, crime, etc. She referred back to Adam and Eve. I stated my opinion on sin, its influence on the world, and my belief that it is a force that only God can finally conquer in the end days. I talked about the kingdoms of the left and right, and our place in both. She changed tactics. “What about your goals for the future?” My response was along the lines of, “Well, our ULTIMATE goal is an eternity with God.” Her eyes bugged out a bit at this response. She was looking for earthly goals. Ones that could be affected by the ills of the world. Ones that would need the version of religion she was trying to sell. I didn’t give her what she was looking for. It did give me two things: a chance to compliment their tenacity and comment on how ripe the mission field in Boston is for passionate women like themselves, and the prompt to think about what my goals are for my family, especially given my views on the kingdoms of the left and the right.
So I sent them on their way. And started musing about what my family goals really are…