If you are like me, you occasionally encounter religious people who are engaged in door to door evangelism in your neighborhood. Often such visitors are interested not only in soliciting the “unchurched” but also in convincing members of other denominations that their doctrine is more correct than that of any other, perhaps the only acceptable doctrine, in fact. Their presentation will usually be built on selected biblical or other sacred texts which they see as powerfully persuasive to their particular understanding of how God operates and what he requires of each and every individual.
Such people undoubtedly face a lot of skepticism and rejection in their efforts, so they are to be admired for their dedication to what they see as God’s work, even if one finds their teachings to be deficient or even erroneous. Feeling a God given requirement to convert others to your religion is an awfully heavy burden to bear. Most would only give it lip-service, so those that make any sort of real effort in that regard must feel tremendous pressure to perform and thereby assure their own status in God’s eyes. I realize that I am being somewhat cynical when I suggest that evangelical efforts are performed to enhance one’s own stature within a religious group and before God as opposed to being purely motivated by love and concern for the so called lost. At the same time I know from personal experience that one cannot enthusiastically and joyfully convey the orthodox Christian message to friends and neighbors much less total strangers, because it is just to gruesome. Therefore I will still venture to guess that much door to door evangelism is fear, guilt, and duty driven as opposed to being an act of true love.
Whatever one’s religious background might be there is a strong tendency in meeting such door to door evangelists to get into a debate, swapping proof-texts back and forth to see who has the best grasp of the scriptures. Of course, all participants in such debates are deaf to anything that doesn’t support their preconceived understanding, so it all becomes a meaningless exercise. Selective application of scripture makes possible the proof of almost anything.
As I consider the endless debates and discussions about the Bible and what it teaches, I conclude personally that the whole message of the Book can be summarized in six words. God is Love. Love never fails. (How’s that for the selective application of scripture?) As far as I am concerned, all else is merely an elaboration on how God demonstrated His Love and how man is invited to experience that Love in the fullest way. Trying to define God by some other characteristic or making His Love somehow conditional is the historical error of Christianity. For me these six words sum up all anyone really needs to know about God. This simple message is merely awesome as opposed to awful. One might even be willing to share it with a little real enthusiasm.