Thursday, January 28, 2010

Saturday in the park

Last Saturday Allie and I started the day with a walk over the bridge. It was good to be outside after a week of being down with the flu. We walked to our mile turn around and then to the swings at the park under the Blue Heron Bridge.

Allie squirmed and shrieked with excitement when she realized our destination was the swings. It’s a struggle to get her out of her stroller when she’s that excited. Once she's in that little bucket seat, it's heaven. She shrieks with ecstasy as I push her as high as physically possible.

We finish up when her little hands are too tired to grip the handles. As we wrapped it up, a lady dressed for business approached me with a small stack of magazines under he arm. "Did you know that one day God will set up his kingdom here on earth?"

That's right to the point. And I really wasn't in the mood. I started to look for a way out of the conversation. How can I just blow her off and make her go away? I had a sense that it wasn't going to be that easy. How could I seriously engage with this woman in conversation in a non-argumentative, non-combative way? I didn't want to win a debate. I really believe that if this woman had it in her to approach a total stranger and discuss faith, then she might be someone seriously trying to get close to God. I wanted to leave her with something to think about.

“Yes, I believe that God is going to set up His kingdom here on earth. That’s exactly what the Bible says in Revelation 21 and 22,” I said.

The problem begins here. Jehovah's Witnesses are not interested in a two way conversations. They practice in their meetings what they’re going to say in their Saturday morning encounters. They work through talk tracks. One plays the Catholic and one is the JW. Then they switch it up and one plays a JW while the other is a Baptist. And keep control of the conversation by asking questions they don’t expect you to answer so they answer for you. That makes them look smart and you in need of instruction. They’re the teachers and you’re the student. See how that works?

I refuse to have a scripted conversation. As I go off script, she uses little techniques to bring the conversation back into territory she's familiar with.

"Do you believe that God's name is Jehovah?" She asks next since I know a little bit of Bible.

"I believe God is Jesus and that Jesus' name means "Jehovah is salvation."

"Jesus has been with Jehovah for eons. He was there with Jehovah when he created the Earth."

"When you've seen Jesus, you've seen the Father."

“Yes, just like you and your wife but not the same person,” she said, “Jesus and the Father are one, but not really the same person.”

“See, you make my point for me: my wife and I are equal; we can be ‘one flesh’ because we are on equal footing in God’s created order. The Father and Jesus are of the same essence of being because they are UN-created. That’s exactly what Jesus was telling the religious leaders in John 10 when Jesus said, ‘I and the Father are one.’ What happened next was the religious leaders picked up stones to stone Him for blasphemy. They said, ‘…because you, being a man, make yourself God.’

“Where does it say that?”

“John 10. Or John 8.” Off script.

And then Allie got tired of sitting in the stroller listening to me Bible banter with a Jehovah’s Witness. On that note, I excused myself.

I never feel good after these encounters. I tend to avoid them because it feels more like a contest than contending for a soul that follows a system built to deny Christ. What I want is to see her walk away from her false faith. What she wants is to see someone added to their roster of tithers and Saturday door knockers to earn a shot at a false paradise.

I walked away praying that God’s Word would not return to Him void. But I was still sad. How do you feel after these kinds of encounters?

1 comment:

Vicki Small said...

I fortunately don't have them, very often, and when I do, I also try to keep them short.

Two years ago, during Holy week (are other weeks unholy?), a JW woman knocked on the door. She held out a flyer for me--an invitation to come to their Good Friday service to honor His death. Now, our own church was going to have a Good Friday service, just like a whole lot of Christian churches, but I said to her, "I prefer to celebrate His resurrection, thank you." Hm...we didn't practice for that one, did we?

She stuttered a little, then assured me that they do, too, but they remember His death. "Yes, I remember, too, because it gives us the hope of eternal life with Him."

Hmm...while her train of thought was boarding at the station, I slowly began closing the door, as I said, "I hope you come to know Him personally, one day." Pretty arrogant of me, actually, assuming that she didn't. She said she did....