Voices: friendship evangelism

“Voting is not the ultimate exercise of the Christian witness to the world.”  – J. Kingcade

Right on, Mr. Kingcade.  Sometimes the more superficial, equally hyped-up believers would have us think that a political vote is tantamount to a testimony to the world.  Nope.  Whatever a Christian voice is, it isn’t the vote.

I don’t pretend to be exercising genuine Christian witness to the world very often — I’m not really even in the other world very much.  But I do think about how I appear, how I influence . . . whether I am “salt and light.” . . .  And if the following constitutes what some call “friendship evangelism,” then I guess I’m for it. . . .

Several months ago, I stopped in to see a town merchant I’ve befriended.  I invited him to our Sunday night Christian gathering.  (He had been on my mind for a while, so I finally took the step of making an overt invitation.)  Then, on a later visit to this guy, I was able to help him with something, with no strings attached.  He has made friendly gestures to me on several occasions.  He’s a very nice guy.

Pause.  I don’t believe for a moment that I have anything like the so-called “gift of evangelism.”  I see evangelism much as I see sales, actually, and the sales profession is one that generally repels me.  I don’t think I’d work in sales if it were the 2nd-to-last job on earth!  The word evangelism rings in my ears as though it were pushy salesmanship, and I retract from that kind of thing in revulsion.

Incidentally, I am amused that the voice dictation function on my smartphone substitutes “vandalism” for “evangelism.”  Some so-called evangelistic efforts have been barely above the acts of vandals, in terms of damage done.

And I must admit that when I first began to hear a voice that used the term “friendship evangelism,” I was repelled.  It seemed potentially disingenuous and sneaky to me — being someone’s friend for the sake of later hitting him with a ton of evangelistic bricks, that is.  The best face of “friendship evangelism” is surely far above such hypocrisy — if it’s being a genuine friend and communicating the good news of Jesus Christ with that friend in love and without strings attached, that is.  May I always do that, but may I never attempt to become someone’s friend with an agenda.  That might drive a perceptive friend further from Jesus rather than drawing the two together.

I don’t put an ICHTHUS (Christian fish) emblem on the back of my car anymore.  I’m a little afraid I will do something on the road that annoys another driver, and that s/he will then have some further reason to keep Christians and the Christ at bay.  No, no gospel paraphernalia for me.  But let me be a friend, and let me be open to those opportunities that arise naturally for communicating Jesus to and with friends — as Francis of Assisi reportedly advised, sometimes using words.

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