Posted by: forfreedomalone | 03/02/2012

Conversation

As many of my readers know the last year has been a hard one for me and the last month the hardest of all, as in it my father died. I returned to Scotland to arrange his funeral and sort out his affairs. There are several stories to tell about that whole time I was there, but the one I want to tell today is about conversation.

After the internment we held a tea for those who had stood in pouring rain, sleet and driving wind at the graveside. There were people there whom I had never met, whom I had not seen in years and others whom I knew well. The conversation was different with each group. With some it would be intimate with shared jokes, with others, vague generalities and banal comments. Words flowed easily or were stifled by the occasion. Conversation was not always easy.
One conversation was, however, flowing and interesting but constantly interrupted by a woman whom I did not know. She would lean over my shoulder and interject comments, most of which were inappropriate, into a conversation which had nothing to do with her. Finally, she began to tell us the story of how she had ‘witnesses’ to the undertaker and of how she had given a tract to a person at a bus stop. Her face shone with pride and achievement, fired by the fact that I was talking to a minister. I was fit to be tied. How dare she inflict her beliefs on a man who had helped me through one of the hardest times in my life; how dare she corner and humiliate a total stranger. My emotions were already raw, but this information shoved me over the edge. “After all,” she said “we are told to ‘Preach the Gospel’ to the world”. I flipped.

I told her in no uncertain terms that her behaviour was 99% guaranteed to turn people away from God not to him; that her ‘witnessing’ was done from a spirit of pride and works, not the Holy Spirit and that 1 Peter 3:1 tells us that the unbelieving husband is won by the conversation of the wife. The Greek word ἀναστροφή
translated in the King James as ‘conversation’ means, not speech but, deportment, manner of living.

She did not believe that Jesus paid the FULL price; he did all the work; that we do not give our lives to him, he gave his life to us; that we are not called to pummel the world into submission, but to woo it; that how she lives says far more about what she believes than the words which come out of her mouth. I do believe that, but perhaps I blew it by not showing compassion, not being gentle, not teaching but chastising. My indignation at her behaviour and the effect it would have on how those people saw God was intense. I excused myself and left the situation before I said something I’d really regret.

If you are prone to preaching the ‘Gospel’ try keeping quiet for one week and preaching what you believe by how you treat others. This woman looked stunned when I said that to her, “What would you do?” she asked not without hostility in her voice. I’d have held my brolly over the person at the bus stop, helped them with the shopping, given up my seat to them. I’d have thanked the undertaker for all he was doing to help the grieving family. If you cannot think of ways to show love to the world you really have no idea what it is you are talking about when you are preaching. In which case it really is best to keep quiet.

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Responses

  1. Very well said Jennifer! Walk the walk, don’t talk the talk!!


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