Too often, even at Easter time when people are more spiritually sensitive than any other time of the year, we act like one of Snow White's dwarves when it comes to witnessing about Jesus and the Gospel, along with inviting someone to Good Friday or Easter services. Bashful becomes the patron saint of Christian witness.
How about going on the offensive instead? I love the idea that struck Rod Takata took one Easter (his story follows). Let's lay aside our inner Bashful and act like Rod.
Happy testifying over the next couple of days!
Some time ago I discovered that a coworker had taken note that I was a “Christian.” Although he would not have described me with that term, it was clearly this distinction that he had latched onto as a subject of interest. “Why do you spend so much time at church?” he would often ask. Depending on my answer, it could launch a series of derisive attacks or profane comments. I realized he was the most hostile person I had ever met toward God, the church, or Christians. Yet, he was also fascinated to the point of regularly initiating conversations about God.
Peter’s instruction to “always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” kept coming to mind. It certainly felt like I was always on the defensive. But an unusual thing I noticed was the burden that God had given me for this man. Of all people, why him? I often asked him to come to church with me, particularly on those days when we were encouraged to invite unbelieving friends. Every time he would refuse in his uniquely colorful way.
Can or should a witness only be defensive? As Easter approached I thought of another plan. The week before, I said “Every year I’ve asked you to come to church with me for Easter. This year I’m not asking you; I’m telling you. On Sunday morning I’m going to drive to your house and park outside and honk my horn until you come out. If you don’t want your neighbors calling, you’d better be ready.” After leaving early Easter morning to drop off kids at church, my friend called the house to tell me not to come, but my wife told him I had already left. When I got to his house he came right out and, opening my door, asked, “You’re really going to make me do this?” To which I replied, “Yes I am. Here’s your coffee; now get in.” We sat in the back row so if he really did “have” to leave we could do so, but we made it through the entire service. Afterward he said to me, “You know, that Father Piper seems really happy.” And I could only reply, “Yes, he is!”
Today, I can joyfully report that God has radically transformed that man. Quite apart from my doing, God intervened while he was riding his bike home from work one day. Suddenly, being overwhelmed with nausea and weakness, he stopped to lie down on the side of the street. Although he wasn’t sure how long he lay there, when he got up, he was a new man in Christ!
Thanks be to God!