“But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth.” (II Timothy 2:23-25)
I have a story for you. Many…that’s many…years ago when I was a lad I worked at our neighbor’s dairy farm. In the evening I’d go up to help with the milking chores. One job I had was to bring the cows up to the barn if they weren’t already there at milking time. So off to the meadow I went one sunny eve to urge the Bossies to get on home. This usually consisted of a few words, a pat on a couple flanks, a love tap on a rump or two and follow me, ladies. Not this time. I don’t know if they found an extra sweet spot of grass or what, but cooperation got lost from their dictionary. This led the “cow boy” to start yelling, and pushing, and chasing and more hollering. Finally, they begrudging started meandering toward the barn with a few kicks and snorts. I took my place in front to lead them onward.
They had me right where they wanted me. “Huh, what’s that thundering noise?” I asked myself. What did they yell in the old westerns? “Stampede!” My little kid legs took to churning real fast as I looked back at a bunch of bovines that seemed intent on love-tapping my posterior. I surmised they were going to do just that and peeled off to the right. They went straight. And the farmer was watching the whole episode. Not A Happy Farmer! He took me to task for putting myself in danger and getting the cows all upset at milking time. Oh yeah, and my favorite hat flew off my head and got squished in the “stampede.” I loved that hat!
I wanted to share that tale as an illustration of how many of us Christians approach evangelism. We move in and talk and pat and tap and when that gets less than hoped for results, we take to quarreling and pushing and chasing and we get to “Huh, what’s that thundering noise?” That be what they call a stampede as our listeners run in the other direction. Can you relate to that? Years ago, I was one of those stampeding away; years later, the one who caused the running of the bulls. I lacked discernment. We often lack discernment. We fail to discern whether God has really opened the door for us. Prepared a heart for us. Have you ever witnessed another Christian playing the part of the proverbial bull in a china shop? Cringe!
Remember in Part 1 Peter tells us when someone asks about our faith, (when they’re open) be ready to share. How? With meekness and fear. The Apostle Paul says to avoid disputes, strife and quarrels. Instead, we’re to be gentle, instructive, patient and humble. No hollering in the meadow, no breaking china, no stampedes.
Be ready. Pray for open doors, open hearts and our open mouths. Allow the Spirit and our own God-given sense to gain and grow in discernment. Our next challenge is to be real.
More on this next time.