“That’s a trap!” he said. “That’s a sneaky, manipulative trap.”
Arguing with my buddy on an issue of “morality,” I’d caught him in a logical fallacy. I’d pounced on it and forced him to choose between two options he detested.
In a sense he was right. I definitely think logic has lost its place in our debates, and we should lament its passing. But am I going to venerate logic to the detriment of a friendship with my buddy? I have no doubt that he’d respond more to the latter than the former. Do I care more about him or about proving a point? I can care for him and about the point without needing to hit him over the head with it.
To what does someone respond more: techniques or personality? Do we want them responding to Jesus or to our Wharton School and Carnegie marketing campaigns?
Do I, in the pursuit of talking about Jesus, seek to think about Jesus and his absurd love for us or about how to persuade the other of my rightness?
Let’s not create a straw man out of talking about Jesus. But let us not miss the fact that we often think more about a technique or method than we do about his personhood. Only the latter can change my heart. Only the latter can speak to someone else’s.
Should we not then ask whether we depend upon Jesus’ presence or upon learned techniques? If we lean toward techniques, do they have anything to do with Jesus? Do we memorize a litany of questions and conversational directives, or do we learn to care for each individual as an individual, as someone worthy as an end in themselves? Do we recognize the vast and incalculable worth of each individual?
Jesus taught that a shepherd would leave ninety-nine sheep to find one. The one is that valuable. He told us about a woman with ten coins searching for the one lost. We focus on reaching many rather than caring for one. Could it be that caring for one most fully illustrates Jesus’ message? Jesus wanted the presence of the one.
Too often, we leave one for ninety-nine. He’s trying to reach us. He’s reaching out for me. I am the one. He’s trying to meet us that we might walk together. Maybe when we meet, we’ll introduce others to him and forget about proving our next point.
Would Jesus have been a very good evangelist by this standard of reaching more?
Does Jesus' presence work as well as the business sales techniques we employ when talking about him?
Do I think that someone is keeping score? Does this drive my actions?
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