As I’ve said, I grew up as an evangelical Christian and recently went through a crisis of faith where I very seriously considered atheism. I came through my crisis and still consider myself a Christian, though not an evangelical Christian. I’m working out what all of my beliefs are, but the core belief is set. I do believe in Jesus Christ. Sometimes, however, I’m really quite ashamed to consider myself part of the group known as Christians, mostly when people who call themselves Christians do unbelievably stupid, rude, or hateful things. Today was one of those days.
I work in a fast food restaurant. It’s not the worst job in the world, but I don’t think it’s anyone’s idea of an ideal job. Today I was cooking French fries, and the fryer is right next to the drive thru window, so I got a firsthand view of an ignorant Christian doing an ignorant thing. As they were coming through the drive thru and as they were picking up their food, they handed my friend Ken, the drive thru worker, a tract and started preaching at him, asking him if he knew Jesus or whatever Christians tend to use as their opening line when they have negative five seconds to get their point across and get someone “saved.” Ken’s a pretty good natured guy. He laughed it off, since he’s pretty firm in his pagan beliefs, and the manager made the car pull on ahead. After that, I put my head in my hands and said “sometimes, I’m ashamed to call myself a Christian.”
And I am! What did those Christians accomplish by trying to hand out tracts through the drive thru as they picked up their food? If Ken had been a Christian (as they don’t know the person in the drive thru, they have no idea if they’re preaching to the lost or preaching to the choir) they would have done nothing worse than wasted his time, but even wasting time is bad enough. It’s rude to the cars behind them, who are also waiting for their food. It’s rude to Ken and every other worker in our store, because we get judged based on how many seconds it takes between the customer ordering their food and the customer receiving their food. And it’s rude to us because we’re just trying to do our job the best we can, and you’re making our job more difficult. Did they even stop and think about anyone but themselves?
And, since Ken isn’t a Christian, we have to wonder about the effectiveness of their methods. Does obnoxiously handing someone a tract through the drive thru actually make them want to become a Christian? A 20$ tip and a “I know it’s tough to be a fast food worker, but Jesus really cares about you” as they drove away would have been a much better witness. Of course, most Christians’ witnesses don’t extend as far as their wallets. No, I have to believe that kind of drive by, hand out a tract “witnessing” is a lot less about actually helping people find Jesus and a lot more about scoring holy points. “Look how holy I am,” they can say at the next church meeting. “Look how many people I shared Jesus with this week.” Never mind that that sort of “sharing” Jesus does more to turn people against Christ than towards him. They did their good deed for the week, they can check witnessing off their to-do list, and they can go to bed with comfortable consciences, without the messiness and trouble of forming an actual relationship with *gasp* a pagan.
I’m done with that kind of witnessing. In fact, I’m done with trying to make other people become Christians. I will never, never go up to a stranger and ask them if they know where they’re going when they die. Cause I don’t know either, I only believe. Obviously, I believe Christianity is true. I believe Christianity is the best way for me to live. Actually, I believe it’s the best way for everybody to live, but I also believe my daughter is the most beautiful creature alive. I’m biased. I admit it. I want everyone to live according to the belief system that best explains the world to them, and helps them to live the best, happiest, most fulfilled life. (With the obvious disclaimer that if your belief system turns you into Hannibal Lecter or something, it’s still not okay to hurt others.) And I believe, I truly believe, that Christianity is the answer to those two issues. So yeah, I’m going to share the joy I’ve found in Christ with you. Yeah, I’m not going to hide the fact that I’m a Christian. And yeah, I hope it’s infectious. I hope you also find the answers to life’s important questions in the love and character of Jesus Christ. But if you find answers somewhere else, I’ll respect that. I’ll agree to disagree. I’ll happily be your friend, and I won’t nag you.
Christianity, as a religion, as a worldview, is fundamentally about a relationship with God. It stands to reason that sharing that faith must also be done within a relationship with your fellow man.