20th October

Evangelism Of The Heart

Whoever is not against us is for us. Mark 9: 40

A young desert Christian met a pagan priest who worshipped idols. He immediately went on to the attack: ‘Ugh huh Demon, where are you running away to?’ The other, furious, beat the Christian with a stick, left him half dead, and went on his way.

A little further on the same pagan priest met met an old desert Christian who greeted him and spoke to him warmly. Astonished, the pagan asked: “What good do you see in me that you greet me in this way?’ The old monk replied: ‘ It is because I saw you wearing yourself out without realising that this is all in vain’. The pagan responded: ‘I was touched by the way you greeted me, and it made me realise that you come from God.’

After that the worshipper of idols joined the Christian monastic life. Moreover, he persuaded others to do the same.

The lesson of this story is that we should seek to welcome someone of another faith as a person in their own right, and to establish a relationship, before engaging in conversation about the Faith. Moreover, it is never good to put another person down, to be rude, or even to assume the worst about them.

So often Christians demonise people of another faith, and illustrate differences in beliefs only by referring to the worst aberrations of the other religion, disregarding the aberrations of Christianity. The truth is that we all have similar needs and feelings. The desert pagan had put himself down (‘What good do you see in me?’); the last thing he needed was for someone else to put him down. He needed to be cherished. And look at the marvellous response to his being cherished by the old man. The pagan went on to win others to Christ, because he knew that they, also, wanted to be cherished; and they were introduced to a Saviour who cherishes.

O Christ, you had compassion on the crowds
You drew people to yourself
You repelled none who knew they were needy.
Grant us hearts like yours
Hearts that go out in genuine greeting
in humble welcome,
Till, in the fellowship of sharing
Souls are drawn to you