Last night, all around the country, kids, teenagers and adults (not just parents) did something bold and courageous. They went up to their neighbors and strangers alike asking for what they wanted: candy. In most cases (of course, there are those stubborn apple-givers) their requests were obliged. But what if the lights were off at one house because no one was home? What if someone opened their door only to tell them they weren't giving out candy? What if they didn't get the candy they wanted at that old guy's house? Unshaken, they kept knocking. Door-to-door they went with hopeful hearts. What they hoped for was enough to keep them knocking.
Besides those newspaper salesmen, who else has the audacity to go door-to-door anymore? That's easy—Jehovah's witnesses and perhaps some other faiths. But, why not Christians? Perhaps people may think we belong to one of those faiths and pretend they're not home when they see us coming, like we do. Maybe we'd be intruding. It's quite possible that we'd get doors slammed in our faces. But what if, just maybe, one of the people on your block invited you inside to share what you seem compelled to share with them?
Have you ever even thought of knocking on your neighbor's door and asking if you could actually give them something that could change their life? I mean really, what's the worst that could happen? I can recall being on a plane and saying that I wanted to share the Gospel with whoever sat next to me that morning. So, as I looked over and saw her writing, I started up some small talk. Well, it ended up being crumb-size convo, because she was more focused on writing in her journal than engaging with me. It was then up to me to take a deep breath, say a quick prayer in my heart, and simply ask, "Can I talk to you about something?" She could have responded with a negative, which would have meant that we sat next to each other the rest of the flight like talking was forbidden (as we did even though I didn't have the gumption to ask her such an intruding question). Or maybe she would have said, "Sure, why not?" I'll never know. Fear paralyzed the possibilities.
Anxiety, however, wasn't the only thing that kept me from going a step further in the conversation. I stopped short that morning as I thought of her need to be discipled, if she wasn't a believer, and I wouldn't have been able to ensure that if we didn't live in the same state. I wouldn't be able to invite her into community, so why even ask? Is on-the-plane evangelism the best way to witness? Debates about the best methods and strategies clogged my mind. Funny enough, had she been reading a book by John Piper or listening to Young Oceans, I wouldn't have thought twice about mentioning my appreciation for both, and we could have talked the entire plane ride. Connecting with other members of the family is certainly beneficial, but for many of us, it's also very comfortable. And if our comfort is what keeps us from sharing, then it's also very selfish. I definitely believe in being led by the Spirit and using wisdom in sharing anything with others, but I'm starting to wonder if many of our reservations, theological or not, are just neatly wrapped excuses.
JUST DO IT
No, the Great Commission is not to share the Gospel with as many people as you can before you die. It's to make disciples. No, we don't need to stand on corners and yell at passersby that they are going to hell, yet offer them no hope. But maybe, just maybe, we need to stop chanting 1-1-6 until we're actually unashamed enough to tell our neighbors or some stranger the Good News just because it's that good. And since we know it's not enough to just know the Gospel, afterwards, we should invite them into our lives and community for discipleship. I once heard a professing atheist say that he didn't understand why Christians weren't relentlessly sharing the Gospel with those around them if they really thought that people who don't know Jesus would spend an eternity wishing they did. That stung. Some of us aren't great communicators, door-to-door witnessing might not be realistic in other cases, but praying for the courage to actually share with others is the least we can do. Many of us are praying for people to come to Jesus, but we haven't extended the invitation to them ourselves. This radical approach, however, finds root right in the scripture. Jesus himself sent out the disciples in Matthew 10 to go door-to door. Paul said he would endure everything to share the Gospel. And Christ himself was willing to die for the salvation of those who crucified Him.
The reward of an eternal life for another human being is much greater than a bag full of candy and well worth the risk of a slammed door. So, I'd say it's about time we started knocking. In one way or another.