The dh and I went with another couple to walk the labyrinth at the First United Methodist Church in Edmond a couple of nights ago. Here's a link for more inforation: http://www.fumcedmond.org/labyrinth.html . What a great experience. It got me thinking about the scripture that says we should always be ready to give an answer for the hope that's within us.
Like many people, I've always been afraid to witness to others. What do I say? Do I have to point out how wrong they are to not believe? Or that their beliefs are wrong? A yes to that last question seems rather arrogant to me. I attended the Church of Christ with my first husband for ten years, and we were supposed to reach out to those of other denominations and point them to the "true" way. I tried, but eventually I came to the realization of how arrogant that appears. Not that members of the COC are arrogant - most of the people I knew were beautiful, humble, highly spiritual people. I still love them dearly and think of them often although they are several hundred miles away and seem to be part of a different lifetime now. But just the concept that a group of faulty human beings (as we all are) way back in the day figured every scripture out perfectly - that's impossible. Yes, the Bible is of no private interpretation, but who's to say who's right and who's wrong (except in obvious cases, of course)?
I should also mention that it's been my experience that people don't respond to being told they're wrong or that they're going to hell. So what do they respond to? How do I find a way to witness that works for me? Obviously the COC way wasn't it.
That realization came to a head during my divorce when only one person from two congregations contacted me to see how I was doing. It was the asst. preacher from the previous congregation and not someone I knew well or was comfortable with, but at least he showed up. None of my friends (so-called) visited or called a single time. These were people I thought I was close to. Who I thought cared deeply for me. Divorce is a no-no in the COC, and they'd already written me off I guess. I knew I wanted no part of that kind of church. May God forgive them for their lack of charity (and save me from making similar mistakes!).
So that plunked me down where I am now. What do I say? How do I bring people to Christ as I'm supposed to?
I've found the answer in the scripture about being ready to give an answer for the hope that is within me. It doesn't say to critique anyone else's walk. It doesn't say to tell anyone they're going to hell. In fact, the Bible says who am I to judge another man's (God's) servant? Nobody, that's who. I'm a servant myself, in fact.
Give an answer for the hope...hmmm
My dh has the handle on this. He says that all he can do is tell others what God has done for him personally, what he's been shown so far, and what's worked for him. There's my answer, I think. That's what attracts people to Christ. Let them see what I've got, and if they want that same peace and joy, they'll ask for more. I can do that, and I have quite a bit to offer.
God's brought me through some really dark times in my life, including a total remodeling of my faith. I mean, we gutted the place completely (I was so afraid that my faith was gone for good at that point!) and put up new walls, new paint, new furniture (really cushy digs for the Holy Spirit to live inside me - I want Him to stay forever!) - the whole bit. I stopped living through the faith of others and began figuring out what I really believe and what God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit really are to me. Since then, I've even had a personal revelation or two - really small ones, but they meant a lot to me.
Well, that's probably enough rambling for now. God didn't say to go on and on in one big blast of information (aren't you glad!!). Feel free to post comments about your own walk. I want to hear your answers for your hope too. You might have the key to the next step upward in my walk. That's why God put us in community. We need each other to keep moving forward. Tell me what you think. I need you.
Eight-legged hugs and big smoochy kisses,
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Spun by The Pink Spyder at 8:17 AM