Tuesday, March 13, 2007

what does it mean to be a witness? (or - it's not enough to just not be weird)

As readers of this blog will know - I have been thinking a lot about evangelism recently.
I was thinking about it again last night when I was out for a drink with the guys from our ante-natal class.
I wonder whether to a certain extent we have defaulted to a kind of negative definition of what it means to be a witness.

i.e. we think it's enough to not be weird.

We know that everyone thinks that Christians are boring and weird. We imagine people discovering that we are Christians and then saying something like - "You can't be a Christian - you're not weird, you're normal". And that has become how we imagine ourselves to be a witness.

But it's not really enough is it? It's a kind of inversion - communicating what we're not (weird) instead of what we are (fill in blanks yourself).

How are our lives really different from those people around us (apart from stuff in our heads about what we believe)? In other words, what positive statements can we make to point people towards the life of God lived out?


Chris said...

I think what a lot of people are afraid of -- or perhaps more accurately what I'M afraid of -- is getting past that point where people don't think you're weird any more and then trying not to come off as arrogant. "Yeah, I'm a pretty normal guy...I just volunteer 5 hours a week, donate lots of money to charity, act honestly in my business transactions, etc. etc."

Obviously we don't do those things for the bragging rights, but I know I find it difficult (and I imagine many others do too) to not come off as threatening when trying to share the positive impact of Jesus on my life. Not that this is anything new, it's the age-old 'holier-than-thou' complex, but I know it remains a challenge.

Matt said...

great point Chris. I wonder though whether that would be a more preferable mistake to make?! I think there are lots of these types of things - where we are either in danger of making one kind of mistake or another - and that can sometimes paralyse us and means that we do nothing.
I think for me I need to run the risk of coming off holier-than-thou, but try to find a way of it becoming a natural part of sharing my life with someone rather than trying to appear somehow better than them.
I agree though that it is tricky.