Saturday, September 23, 2006

Boxed in By Jesus

My internet service has been down since yesterday evening, and so I have had to seek out "hot spots" in my house where I can "borrow" my neighbors' signals, or wander down to the library or a coffee shop that offers wireless. It's gloomy outside today, and about an hour ago, as I walked from coffee shop to coffee shop, trying to find one that isn't filled with noisy undergraduates or annoying musicians, I was accosted by a man wearing a box around his body that said: "The Lord has made his salvation known to men." As he and his other box-wearing (each with a different verse) friends made one large box of their own and closed in around me, the original one very kindly tried to hand me a tract. He looked at me so sadly, but sweetly, as if I was the most dejected human being on the planet, and asked, "Do you know Jesus?"

"None of us here know Jesus, including you," I responded, to my own surprise, "or we would all be out feeding the poor or volunteering in medical clinics." I'm not sure where this came from, but I think I must believe it on some level. And I was able to squeeze through the little chink I had created in the wall of box-wearers and slide into the next coffee shop. I think I hurt his feelings, though I didn't mean to; he was very sweet and sincere. But street witnessing doesn't work, and at any rate, the box outfit is not a good look for anyone. I wish I had a camera phone.

8 comments:

Casey said...

Oh, man. This could have been a sad and powerful modernist parable if it weren't true.

I was thinking the other day, though: if you believe that you know the truth (even if you're objectively mistaken), aren't you justified in trying to share it with others? Or is all missionary work and evangelism misguided good intention?--tyranny in disguise?

nedric said...

Wow - boxed in by an interrogation as well. Your emphasis on his sincerity and kindness is helpful as a reminder that they actually do care. If that ever happens to me, I think I will quote you - or say, "Do you mean 'know' in the Biblical sense?"

Monica said...

That's very funny, Nedric: "'know' in the Biblical sense." When I was in fifth grade, one of my Sunday school teachers asked my friend and me what our favorite bible verse was, and we replied, "Greet all the bretheren with a holy kiss" (somewhere in a Pauline epistle), much to my teacher's chagrin.



Yeah, Casey, seriously -- could've been a cool parable. But, yes, I think people are justified in trying to share what they believe is the truth with others. I mean, why wouldn't they want to share "the good news" with other people? I don't think it's tyranny in disguise, but maybe I'm overly optimistic. I just think that it's not the most effective way to spread Christian doctrine.

Anonymous said...

How can a person say street witnessing does not work? It may in fact work for some people just not for you.

Monica said...

You have a point, anonymous. I think it may work for some people, just not most, in my opinion. I do, however, remember my aunt, who does a lot of "street witnessing" once telling me about a time when she was out "witnessing," and at the end of the night came across a young girl by herself, who was about ready to commit suicide. My aunt spent a lot of time with her, and really made a difference in her life. But, again, it wasn't the "street witnessing" that did the trick -- it was taking the time to care about a person and put into action what she had been trying to preach.

nedric said...

Putting into action what we try to preach seems also to me to be the best way to "witness." And I agree, taking time is more effective. Are there some occassions where "just" words can do the trick, though?

two_dishes said...

I saw a tough sell this morning: two black churchladies with tracts knocking on doors on 4th Street in largely Orthodox Borough Park.

Monica said...

Now, that IS a tough sell -- those poor ladies . . .