I must admit I’m a bit shy and awkward at times.
When I was younger and dating, or rather trying to date(!), I used to find this whole asking someone out, to dance, for a coffee etc a bit uncomfortable.
It was so much easier to stay huddled in the corner of your school disco with your mates than take the walk of fear accross the dance floor to ask the girl to dance. Yet if you walk across the floor, you maybe changing your life forever, I’ve taken funerals of people who have had wonderful 50ish year marriage, which all started by that step from the comfort zone.
I remember hearing how often girls sat in their huddle really wanting the boy to walk accross the hall, and yet guys used to think “they’d never be interested in me” so they never moved…
Or perhaps we have seen, or been, people who have thought that it is so much easier to ‘just stay as friends’, just stay in a safe zone of pleasantness rather than risk exchanging a good friendship for a great relationship, settling for ‘being liked’ rather than ‘being loved’ (and vice versa).
Yet for millions, probably even billions, we have had to move through that awkwardness or pain barrier in order to have that life changing relationship.
I remember having a conversation with Allana once in the early days where I was, so nervous, insecure, that I remember dancing around the subject of really liking her for about half an hour.
Again, many guys reading this will remember the heart in your mouth moment when you propose and ask your girl friend to marry you…
It’s a scary moment risking asking your girl friend to be your wife, offering someone else an exclusive and a rest of your life commitment…
Interestingly too we all know people (mainly women) who are desperate for their boyfriend to propose.
Others appear to have it all sorted, constantly flirting, and as a teenager seem to only be single for a few minutes before appearing with some new “love of their life”..,
Does any of this sound familiar?
In many ways I think the world of dating can teach us a lot about the world of evangelism and mission.
Firstly it does often require us to take a step out of the comfort zone of familiar safety into a new and hitherto unknown territory…
We need to see the vision of people coming into relationship with Christ, the Angels dancing in celebration, as and empowering and compelling reason to leave the comfort, familiarity and safe security of the Holy Huddle, a prize that is worth so much more than the cost.
Too often we make the decision for people, mistakenly often thinking “they wouldn’t be interested” when in actually fact they are willing you to allow them the opportunity to hear about Jesus.
Too often we are scared that our friendships by be jepodized through evangelism, and so we never risk the possibility of offence or friction, but in doing so miss out on them and us sharing in awesome blessing of them coming know Christ and us having the pleasure and privildge of leading them to him.
Often in those conversations we a fearful to ‘seize the day’ for a moment to talk about our faith, often not realising that the person themselves was hinting at knowing more and going deeper?
The fear of rejection so often debilitates us from talking about Jesus… yet we often forget that we are loved and expressing an opinion on a faith matter is not going to be the social suicide we think it will be.
Often the hang ups and paranoia are actually to do with us, and our projections that to do with the people we are talking too.
This often results in us dancing around the gospel, just as the dating guy needs sometimes to say the words, sometimes we need to “push through the pain barrier” and actually say it, and like many things in life it is actually not as bad as we first thought. Nerves and fear often cause us to pull back from saying the truths of the gospel to people, and yet often the fear was either misplaced or blown out of all preportion.
Also we often compare ourselves unfavourably with everyone else who appears to be doing so much better at evangelism than us knocking our confidence still further.
As we think about the flirts, it made me think of those people who gently push boundaries, and wonder if we can do that with evangelism, gently pushing and challenging people to think a bit more about faith, moving preconcieved ideas out of the way of Christ.
So let’s be people prepared to see the worthwhile nature of sharing our faith, prepared to take the risk on Christ in our relationships.
I feel as CHristians we need to be emboldened, but we also need to remain wise, respectful and gentle.
I am keen for people to be courageous and seize the moment, but that is not a green light for recklessness or tactlessness.
Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi tells us we hold out the word that gives life, Paul urges the Church in Rome not to be ashamed of the gospel, and the (often tactless) Peter tells us to “always be prepared to give an account for the hope that we have but to do so with gentleness and respect”.
So, let’s leave our mates in the corner of the school disco and talk the walk to the unknown with courage.