My family and I spent a few hours at one of those outdoor flea-market places recently. We enjoyed the weather as we browsed the booths, most of which were peddling junk but a few of which had some neat stuff. I noticed among the hundreds of booths, three faith-based booths sharing information on their beliefs.
Two of the faith-based booths were Christian and one was Islamic. Each were manned with two or three people and each had banners to decorate and educate. There was a glaring difference in the approach of the two different faiths represented, however. Both of the Christian booths used optical illusions and riddles to attract the attention to a possibly unsuspecting potential convert. The idea, I suppose, was to catch their interest and then engage them in some form of discussion before pulling the bait and switch on them to address their spirituality.
The Islamic booth, by contrast, was offering free copies of the Quran, had a large banner with a somewhat compelling quote from the Quran and an advertised time and place for weekly gatherings. No apparent efforts to capture the attention of anyone with any tricks or attractions.
I reflected on these two approaches on the way home and it made me a little sad. Why do we think we need to trick people into Jesus? Do we think that if they like our puzzle or riddle and listen to our pitch and say a prayer that there is fulfillment in the call to make disciples? Where is the depth of relationship? Where is the boldness of the Gospel? Where is the trust that it is the Holy Spirit that attracts the hearts of people?
The Christians weren’t doing anything wrong. I’m just afraid that the presentation of Truth, as a whole, has gotten too cute. There was absolutely nothing cute about the way Jesus saw into the souls of people and drew them in with challenging calls to heart changes in their lives. Peter and Paul didn’t hide the ball when healing the sick as they announced the Kingdom.
I spoke to a group recently and had some moments where the words and insight I was afforded by gifting and grace hopefully made an impact in the hearts and lives of those listening. There was a point during the message that there was just simple recitations of Scripture, one right after the other; declarations of Truth. That moment, when the Word was the only focus and I neither added, subtracted or explained any of it, was the most powerful moment of my 30 minutes by far. His Word will not return void and does not need tricks to be attractive.