This afternoon at work I found that someone had placed and unsolicited Bible tract near my computer work station. I’m not sure if it was one of the guests who had given it to a fellow waiter, but I suspect it was. Every once in a while, when I worked at my old job, little old ladies would hand me a tract with their little noses in the air, press their cold hands on mine, and look into my eyes like my soul needed some kind of desperate saving. Yep, I’m a Christian and nothing more turns me off to my own religion than people who don’t understand the very foundation of the faith they claim to follow.
It’s not that I don’t realize that some people have good intentions when attempting to share their belief system with others in this fashion. I’m aware that, in some strange way, they believe they are effectively going to convert a non-believer to their side of the argument. I guess I just haven’t figured out yet how they think that process would work exactly.
First of all, I find that Bible tracts are an offensive way to try to communicate the gospel to a person because it is downright pretentious. To me, it feels as though you assume that somehow, through the small window of actions you have had the privilege of seeing me perform, indicates that I am some wretched heathen that needs some immediate help on the soul-search. When I have been given them in the past, I just wished I had a moment to say something like: “Thank you for the thoughtful gesture, but what made you think I needed saving? You and I are on the same team, friend.” Just so that I could understand their reasoning. As a follower of Jesus, if I am this turned off by someone of my own faith’s attempt to convert someone, I cannot imagine the automatic turn off someone who has a different belief system as I instantly feels.
And that ties into my second reason. Most of the first-world reasonably knows the major belief systems. And at my age, someone who is in their twenties, they have probably or will probably soon, make a definitive decision about what path they would like to take. It is not as though one must hand out tracts in fear that someone in America might not have heard what the Bible is or who Jesus is and stands for. I just can’t even stress how ineffective it is. If someone has already made up their mind to not believe in the existence of a Supreme Being, a tiny booklet giving them illogical reasons as to why they should is not going to allow them the chance to open up their hearts.
When I took Social Psychology, we discussed that the resistance of someone who thinks they are right is strong. People do not want to experience the uncomfortable feelings that come when their inner self schema is challenged. So they mentally try to defend that belief. If we are abrasive in our attempts, we are just making them shut down instead of opening up. And we are now losing the battle we had hoped to win. It is kind of like when politics come around. You pick a side, or not, but either way you have made up your mind and your opinion about the election. When someone suddenly comes at you and tells you that your way is wrong in every way, how likely are you going to be to jump at the opportunity to listen? Yeah, I thought so. Now imagine how someone feels when you leave a tract instead of a tip, or slide it into their hand and look at them desperately like you will be praying for their soul. It doesn’t sound attractive.
Here’s my take. Jesus came to this earth and showed the world what love looked like. Raw, unadulterated, pure love. He didn’t chose certain friends based on his righteousness, after all he was very good friends with a prostitute. He did go around preaching the gospel, but He was preparing a path, and those who listened had ready hearts. This is why I refuse to force explain what I believe to others. Instead I choose to live a life that tries its best to love like He did. I know my love cannot be perfect like His was, but I can try and with His help I can shine His light. I strongly and firmly believe that by loving like he did, others will wonder how, in this crazy, insensitive world I have managed to keep my head up. And I don’t even have to say a single word. I feel that is how it should be. I don’t need to be offensive with my words to make up for my lack of understanding. We just need to take the time to be there for others. And pray, with all our might. If we are to be the tool used to bring someone to the light, God will use us. No questions asked.
So stop trying to take someone else’s fate in your own hands. If we are truly in tune with the Holy Spirit, and what the Father has in store for us, we don’t need to hand out Bible tracts that are poorly written, we can live our lives in such as way as to be a continuous and living testament to the beauty he brings through restoration. We don’t need to tell someone within five seconds of meeting them to shove it.
Tomorrow, I will attempt to write my thoughts about the contents of the tract. I read through nearly the whole thing, but my thoughts are too much for one post. Until tomorrow, folks. Stay strong.