My doctor handed me some papers and asked me to read the radiologist’s report to him.1
I was stunned. I couldn’t fully understand the medical terminology, but it sounded like I had a terrible brain disease and was headed for the coffin. I just sat there.
“I don’t know how I can help you,” he said. “Live a good lifestyle and who knows?”
He wrote a prescription for a walker with wheels and called the Department of Motor Vehicles to give me a test to see if I should be driving an automobile.
Six months later I was back in the doctor’s office.
“What about your driving permit?” My doctor said.
“Unrestricted. And I’m not using the walker.”
Except for being a bit unsteady on my feet, all was well. Then I wondered: How can crippled, blind, deaf, mentally deficient and otherwise impaired people give a clear message of God’s love?
[Thought Questions for Evangelism and Witnessing as a Lifestyle April 24, 2012]
1. The reluctant witness. Do you think Dorcas had any idea of her wonderful example of always helping people? Would she have been more comfortable if nobody had noticed? Are we ever in danger of being a bit paranoid by believing that people watch us and learn about our personal religion as a result? Or is our danger in the opposite direction when we are sure that nobody cares what we do or what we believe as long as we leave them alone? When you see other people in town or work or even at church, do you tend to reach conclusions about their personal relationship with Jesus Christ? Is that dangerous or helpful?
2. They’ll know. Jesus seemed very sure that when people are around us, they’ll know if we are His disciples or not. How will they know? Can’t sinful people put on a front and appear to be caring and friendly? Should we be as friendly to those outside our fellowship as those within our church? If our only motive in making friends with a Baptist or a Catholic is to convince them to join our church, how eager will those people be to share a friendship with us? Should that goal (bringing them in to the church) be the overiding goal in our relationships with others? If not, what should be?
3. Compassion. Have you heard about the Adventist pastor who greeted the congregation and said how happy he was that Adventists are better Christians than anyone else”? Or that “everyone who truly loves the Lord will be ‘in this building’ every Sabbath?” What do comments like that say about our compassion or lack of it for other Christians? Should we join people from other churches or groups in meeting the spiritual and physical needs of others? Or should we be careful that any sympathy or good deeds are firmely rooted in our church? Since the great message of the gospel is God’s love, should Christians of all faiths join in proclaiming that?
4. Sympathizing. Have you ever heard that a person who grew up following sin to the extreme and then is converted to Christianity is a better witness of the Christian life than one who has always been a Christian because he or she has walked in the paths of sin and understand what a temptation they are? Do you agree with that philosophy? In a country where there are as many guns as people, should we spend time in the gutters or running with criminal gangs in order to understand them better? What is Jesus’ example for winning friends?
5. Hospitality. Do you ever run into obstacles when you decide to be hospitable to your non-Christian neighbors? Should you invite them to a vegetarian cook-out? Or accept their invitation to a barbeque if you’re a strict vegetarian? Have you ever had people refuse to be friends with you when they found out you are a Seventh-day Adventist? Why would they do that? What about family events when the majority of relatives are not Adventist and most are not Christians? Should you attend these events? If so, how should you relate to what goes on there?
6. Friends. From birdwatching to neighborhood cleanups to antique cars or quilting—how many opportunities does your community offer that could lead to fun—and friendships? What about volunteer programs such as helping to serve meals to the hungry? Or helping teenage moms take care of their babies? Or reading to an elderly person who can hardly see? Or coaching teenagers playing soccer or tennis or other high school sports? Is there anything we as church members can do to encourage fellow Adventists to make friends with people outside the circle of our church?
7. Write it down. Your lesson ends with an appeal to share information with others in the church about what you are doing to make friends in your community. There is also a strong appeal to start or support programs that reach out into the neighborhood. If your church has 100 or more members, should it even be possible to keep track of all the good deeds being done? For an active church, how might it be that not writing down every good thing done by members is a better alternative? What are some good reasons for letting other members know what families, individuals, and groups are doing for others?
8. Ready? Are you ready to expand your friendships? Help more people? Ask for the Holy Spirit to direct you to new opportunities? Will you gladly do all of these things even if nobody notices?