Ding Dong - They’re on my doorstep!

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, March 8, 2014 0 comments

Saturday morning, you sit down for breakfast, have a cup of tea or coffee, and just when you are about relax into your day, the doorbell rings. You didn’t have guests coming, so you curiously walk into the foyer and peek out the window. And then your moral and ethical struggle begins.

On the porch are people you have never seen before, but you know who they are. They either are wearing white shirts with black name tags, or dressed somewhat conservatively clutching a “watchtower” magazine. Do you answer? What if they saw you? If you let them in, you know they are going to talk about the Bible, or their bible, or something spiritual...now what?

We have all had these feelings when members from a local Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon community come to evangelize us (Yes, I know Christ Followers do this too – I respect the reason and the courageous faith – I disagree with the methodology because of its “retail sales” like results). First of all, I want to give everyone permission to not open the door. It may be inhospitable initially, but the greater evil is allowing someone who is loaded to the gills with psychological sales tactics and twisted teachings about the Bible to have access to you when you are not prepared. Make no mistake, like any door-to-door sales pitch, this is a “sales” call they are making.

Jesus challenges us to be hospitable – and to welcome strangers – in order to share the Gospel (HIS Word) with anyone. JW’s and Mormons are included in that challenge. So, how do we prepare? What should be our attitude?

I had an experience a number of years ago, where a JW approached me in a local supermarket – he worked there. We struck up conversation, and when he found out I was a seminary student at the time, he started to quickly twist and turn through the Bible. It turned from conversation, to control. I was very keenly aware that I was scrambling for my metaphorical snorkel. Then he tossed out the question – “Did you know that the Catholic Church declared that the Trinity, is a non-Biblical concept?”

That quick little comment was designed to throw me off, and it did. He didn’t know my background, but somehow he supernaturally (demonic) picked the one topic that would sidetrack me. Then by the time I scrambled back into the conversation he had already wrapped up his point. He stood there asking me how I could believe Jesus is God, and probing me to consider what the JW prophets teach. Embarrassed for my Jesus, and disappointed in myself, I excused myself from the conversation – finished my shopping and made my way to my mentor’s house. We debriefed the encounter, and he showed me the exact moment I was overrun by a clever (but deceptive) argument.

The Catholic Church had recently made a statement that the word “Trinity” was not a Biblical word. However, they affirmed that the concept of Trinity or Tri-unity of GOD (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) was DEFINITELY Biblical. I had been duped by my lack of knowledge of current events, and by a slick and deceptive sales pitch. Once he saw he had distracted me from the Bible, this JW had me where he wanted me.

We went back and looked at John 20:24-29. Please take a moment to read it in context – I am going to paraphrase the encounter. This is one of the moments where Jesus returns to His disciples after the resurrection and shows them he is risen from the dead. This is the moment where the Disciple Thomas has just finished saying, “I will not believe (He is risen) until I can touch the nail holes in his hands, and put my hand in his side (where Jesus was pierced by the guards to ensure he was dead).” At that moment Jesus appears among them and says to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

To which Thomas replied, “My Lord and My God!”

This is a verse that is troubling for the JW’s because they deny Jesus as GOD and say he had an honorary title because he lived a good life. They try to say that Thomas was looking at Jesus to say, ‘my lord’, and then up to heaven to say, ‘my god.’ There is no way in the context of this verse that Thomas was talking in two separate directions. And Jesus responds directly to Thomas’ statement, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

I thanked my mentor for sorting that out with me, and then went home and started praying for another encounter with this man. Years passed. And I would see him occasionally in the store, but the minute I would start to walk toward him, he (without seeing me) would scurry off in another direction. It was like something unseen was keeping him from having another conversation with me. Several more years passed and I had the opportunity to counsel former JW members who broke free from the cult, and were recovering from being controlled and abused. (Again, I know there are so called “Christian” groups that are abusive and controlling.) I learned a great deal from these hurting people, and some of them were former teachers and evangelists in the JW church. My point is once they learned to read their Bible and understand the context without the “prophets” interpreting everything for them, they, like Thomas, came face to face with the Jesus who IS God.

God has a tremendous sense of humor. One Saturday morning, as I finished a cup of coffee, there was a knock at the door, and the doorbell rang. I peeked out, feeling all the feelings I described at the beginning of this blog. As I looked out, it was not the Morman young men I had spoken to before (that’s another story), it was the Jehovah’s Witnesses. And in particular – it was THAT guy from the store. I prayed, then I opened the door and greeted him warmly. I walked out on my porch and sat down on one of the chairs. He started almost the same exact progression of scripture and doctrines he had lead with at the store 8 years earlier. I sat quietly for a few minutes and listened. When he finally took a breath, I said, “you don’t remember me do you?”

With a shocked and puzzled tilt of his head he peered through his tinted eyeglasses, and stammered, “no…no I guess I don’t.” Then as he opened his mouth to start back into his rant (as if I had never said anything), I said, “you work at [name of store], we met 8 years ago and talked in the automotive section. You asked me if I knew the Catholic Church had declared the Trinity a non-Biblical concept. “ A look of panic swept over him, and he started looking around for the fastest exit. I warmly tried to calm him down, and said, “I am so glad you are here, I have been looking forward to continuing that conversation.” His ears perked for a moment and he re-engaged.

I said, “ I did some studying, did you know the Catholics declared it a ‘non-biblical word’ but affirmed that the tri-unity of God is Biblically accurate?” He went from his renewed calm to almost fearfully agitated. I was sitting back in my chair inviting him to continue listening. I said, “I would like to have the chance to ask you some more questions. Can we talk about John 20:24-29 – Where Jesus appears to His disciples and Thomas says, ‘my Lord and my God’?” For a brief moment he started to sputter out parts of scripture references, parts of concepts from scriptures. I said nothing, waiting. He looked like a computer that just had a complete meltdown and was displaying random letters and numbers (and sounded like it to). He started to lose all composure and cohesion, and then he just stopped talking, froze for a brief moment, and then darted off my porch. Three other people were with him, knocking on neighbors doors, and when they saw him bolting for the car, they started rushing back too.

I stood up, now annoyed that he would run. I talked loud enough for all my neighbors to hear. I said, “Where are you going? I thought you wanted to talk about Jesus? You knocked on my door on a Saturday morning, and invited me out to talk, and when I ask a few simple questions you are running away? Why? I want to talk with you about Jesus. I want to explore the Bible with you and dig into the meaning that comes out of a Jewish context. Why are you running away? “ And with that they were in their car, and literally sped off out of the neighborhood. Maybe I enjoyed that a little too much. ☺

When Jesus said, “ you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free,” he meant it. And He said that verse in the context of encouraging the Disciples to hold to HIS teachings, and not the teachings of other “prophets” or cultic leaders. I was able to be hospitable. I was free to let the man speak about his faith, and I was able to be non-threatening in my invitation to continue to the discussion. I was able to extend an opportunity for relationship with a man who only saw me as a target, and who never remembered me. What made him afraid, what made him and his friends run, ultimately, was walking closer to the Truth.

So, if your doorbell rings, are you ready to be hospitable? Are you ready to discuss Truth? Or are you running because you do not know the Truth of God’s Word? Maybe you know the True theology of the Bible but are not walking in the Truth and see people as “targets” also?

If you don’t know what the Bible teaches, or you read it and don’t understand it – get a translation that is easy to read, and a commentary that interprets Scripture in context. And if you have religious sales persons come to your door, pray first, then let God’s Word help you freely be hospitable.

Some resources I think are good for starters:

- “365 Day Devotional Commentary” – by Lawrence O. Richards
- www.followtherabbi.com
- Life Application Study Bible