When the People Come Knockin’

knock knockToday, a very nice Jehovah’s Witness woman came knocking at my door, seeking to share a good word with me. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a religious person approach my home this way.

But not too long ago, a nice young lady from a different country came up the steps, rang the bell, and when she came in at my invitation, sitting at my kitchen table, she opened her binder and tried to sell me educational books for my children. I kindly told her we already had a set of the books she was selling, and she proceeded to up-sell me other items to add to my collection.  The previous summer the same group came around, selling the same books, but it was a different young lady.

Every year, right around this time, the local kids start coming around selling pizza, magazines, candy and popcorn, whatever, in the school’s attempts to raise money for various organizations. Sometimes we buy stuff, usually we don’t, but each kid is trying to win a prize. Or, maybe their parents are on one of the various committees trying to raise money for new uniforms, a new PA system for the gym, money to send the kids to Washington, D.C. (always a good cause, of course), and they don’t want to, but their parents are making them.

When we lived in Idaho, we often had Mormon individuals canvasing our neighborhood in their attempt to gain converts–sharing the Mormon gospel, spreading the good news of the prophets. Sometimes they’d come in to our house and sit down for discussion, but other times they preferred to stay outside. I always asked if I could pray with them before they went their way.  Most of the time, they were obliging and allowed me to say a prayer for them. On occasion they declined.

Today, the nice JW lady declined my offer to pray with her. In the course of our conversation at the door–she preferred to remain outside because some of her friends were walking around, she told me–I told her that I am an independent minister and that I was familiar with the passage of Scripture she chose to share with me (Jeremiah 29:11). She asked me if I wanted any of her information, but I declined. I already have JW materials like the book she held out to me. Maybe she didn’t stick around very long because she had a lot of ground to cover.  Maybe she only stayed for those 5 minutes because she didn’t know how to approach a “minister” of a different gospel based on what she had already prepared. Maybe my offer to pray for her threw her off her game. Maybe she felt it was wrong to receive prayers from someone not of her faith persuasion (most likely), I don’t know, but as she turned away with a wave and a “Good day!” I said a prayer for her anyway, in my heart and in my head.

I prayed that God would bless her and lead her into a greater relationship with Him.  I prayed that her efforts today would not be seen as wasteful to her in the days to come, but would be a memorable part of her discovery of the goodness of Christ. I prayed that she would encounter nice people throughout the rest of her knocking and sharing, and that my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ would show the radical love and hospitality we claim to follow. I prayed that she would know the freedom that Jesus died to bring us, and that the Holy Spirit would woo her to the presence of the Father. And that wherever she currently is in her fellowship with God, that she would grow in the strength and awe and wonder of His divine grace and love. She is a sister of faith, seeking the divine just like me. I want her to be blessed and transformed, just like I’d wish for her to desire for me, if the tables were turned.

Here’s the way I see it. Everyone comes knocking on our doors for different reasons–maybe their faith compels them to approach the homes of strangers, maybe their membership in a certain organization requires it of them, maybe they have a job to do–but I don’t have to be a jerk about it.  Fact is, today, I look horrible; not really fit for accepting company. I’m in ratty pajamas, my hair’s disheveled, and my day-old makeup is streaked and causing black rings under my eyes. I could act all annoyed because they didn’t call first and give me a chance to look presentable.  I could be crabby because I don’t want what they are selling whether it’s food or faith, and I don’t want to hear the spiel. I could get mad at them for making me stop what I’m doing to listen for 5 minutes because my 5 minutes are better spent doing something else. I could find any reason to be a jerk, and the harsh reality is, many people are.

Going door to door isn’t an easy task. It’s gutsy. It’s scary. It’s hard. Have you ever done it? Have you had something to sell or share, only to be rejected over and over–some people being complete jerks about it?

Yes, I’m a minister and I know what I believe.  I know theology. I know Christian history.  I know about denominational differences. I understand faith. And I’m pretty convinced of my beliefs based on those things. But, my faith also compels me to welcome the stranger. My faith compels me to let them share. My faith compels me to offer a glass of water. My faith compels me to pray for them on their journey, even if I don’t agree with their theology or their tactics. Why? Because I believe that being a Christian means being a person of blessing. I know that offering “gifts” to people that did not ask for them is hard, and I want to acknowledge their efforts. And, I believe that every person on this earth is on a personal journey toward God–some are traveling the right road and others are not. It’s not my ‘job’ to tell them, but to point them to God that they might discover the right road themselves–with the help of the Holy Spirit, of course. My acceptance of them, my prayers for them, and my hope for God’s Kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven are the seeds I plant in spiritual places that I trust God will grow.

As brothers and sisters in Christ, will you extend grace to people who do not believe as you do? Will you engage them with the same warmth as you would hope they extend to you if the shoe was on the other foot? None of us are perfect and have ALL the answers right. We could all benefit to learn from one another and from God above, for none of us are He, and we’re prone to be wrong in some matter of faith and truth. But if we believe that God sees and knows and can guide and direct us, don’t we want to pass that grace along trusting in the sovereignty of His mighty hand? I do. And while one conversation is not likely to convince me to see things their way, or for them to see things my way, we can still spread the love by being kind and generous and hospitable.

Didn’t Jesus teach us that this is how we should be?

I’m certainly no saint, but I know how people can treat those who come knocking, and I want to share a better way. Maybe you can apply something of what I offer here today and add to it, doing even better.

If they’re going to knock on doors, let’s make them happy they knocked on ours!

Comments

2 Responses to “When the People Come Knockin’”
  1. Amanda says:

    I recognize that not everyone will agree with this post, due to my particular religious perspective, but traditional Christianity is not an inclusive, pluralistic faith system. It is exclusive, claiming certain principles that make it this way–Jesus as Savior and Lord, only those claiming such are Christian, etc.–and this is what I unashamedly believe. Therefore, when I pray, I pray from this belief. I could be wrong (I don’t think I am) but I pray that if people see me to be in error, they will pray the same kind of prayer I pray for them, and we will entrust one another to God. Depending on the circumstance, I will seek to persuade those same people seeking to persuade me, using the same arguments they use. It is a way of engagement that not everyone is comfortable with, but I always try to do it in fairness, grace, and humility, because I trust they are coming from the same place. I don’t give every argument the same level of credibility, neither should they. But we should seek give every person an equal level of respect. That is the message I seek to convey with this post.

  2. Becky says:

    Well said, Amanda! I don’t always feel like I know what the correct thing is to say (in the door-knocking situation and many others) but I know how Jesus wants me to act toward others: with love. The Holy Spirit can handle the rest! Thanks for this!

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