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What Two Raw Vegans Taught Me About Sharing Jesus
Authentic Witness, Week 1
A few weeks ago, I was talking with a Muslim friend about her beliefs.
“How do you know XYZ is true?” I asked. She stared at me for a moment.
“Because the Quran says it’s true.”
“How do you know the Quran is true?”
“I’m… not allowed to ask that question.”
“Okay. Here’s a totally different question. How do you know anything is true? If someone told you something, how would you verify it?”
“Oh. Well, I would research, and talk to people who knew, and try to find out.”
“Okay. So, would it be okay to do that with your beliefs?” She hesitated. Even though she answered in the negative, this way of looking at things shifted her perspective just slightly.
Muslims aren’t the only ones with religious baggage. I have it, too.
See, I really want to share the gospel without feeling like a used car salesman. But when I try to picture myself doing that, all these experiences come flooding into my mind: times I’ve tried to share, reactions people have had, the intense longing to obey God and to represent Him well, all the cheesy “witnessing instructions” I’ve heard, potential consequences for myself or others…
So, let’s just set that all aside for a moment. Let’s change the camera angle and take this from a different perspective.
What if there were something else I wanted to share? Something important and life-changing, but not spiritual? How would I share that thing?
My Raw, Vegan Friends
I once met a couple who were raw. Like, they had discovered Raw Veganism, and they were like, into it. Yes, they sounded like walking infomercials for a $500 juicer. But they meant what they said. And they weren’t getting a commission.
“Like, ever since finding Raw, we’re like, so healthy, and my skin glows, and I just feel amazing.” This is the type of thing they said every five minutes. They were seriously satisfied customers of the Rawness movement.
So I googled going raw. I wondered how one goes raw, and what it entails. How to cook if you are raw. Where Rawness came from. I wondered if I had to go all in, or if I could try at least being “rawer” than mac and cheese and egg McMuffins. I began to explore.
I didn’t convert. But we do eat a lot of salad now.
They say the best salesperson is a satisfied customer. These people were "selling" raw veganism with a capital RV.
Are you a satisfied customer of the gospel?
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A Great Salesman
I once knew a guy who had a special talent for selling stuff. “D” was such a great salesman that my college psychology professor once brought him to class to do a demonstration about sales psychology.
…where seven people in our class bought what he was selling.
Other than being a brilliant salesman, D always does one thing. He always chooses a product he, himself, truly believes in and uses. He is 100% confident in the product. If he wants to sell magical car wax, he scrapes his car and tries out the wax, and keeps a tub of the stuff in his glove compartment, and tests it, and has his friends test it, and in general, makes sure it works in his own life.
Are you a satisfied customer of the gospel?
Is it possible to get into the headspace of a satisfied customer, without sounding like a used car salesman? And is there anything we can do to make sure we are satisfied and ready to speak?
I’m not suggesting that we turn sharing our faith into selling a product. So let me bring it back into a spiritual context.
My Friend, Meg
I have a friend I’ll call Meg. She was a member of my home church who consistently invited me into her world. I tagged along when she picked up day-old bread from the bakery to give away for free from the church porch. I helped when she cleaned the home of a depressed friend. When, because of extreme circumstances, she adopted her sister’s children, I saw her rearrange her life to love them.
But the very best thing Meg did for me was share her faith in real-time. She used to share scripture songs she’d written. She would tell me why she’d written them, the story behind them, why she needed God’s word so much, and how it changed things for her. She’d ask me to pray with her for her children, that she would concentrate fully on following Jesus herself, whether or not they chose to follow. She’d tell me, every time I saw her, something God had taught her that week.
Meg talked about Jesus like He sometimes stopped by for a slice of apple pie. Like he’d told her to say hi to me if she saw me. Meg was satisfied in the presence of Christ. And she told me what she saw Him do.
Meg is one of the (many) reasons why I write what really goes on in my heart. Because seeing her walk with Jesus is still a model for me.
Now I am asking God to show me how to share my faith in real-time in a place very different from the town where I grew up. Instead of apple pie, there is bitter mint tea and semolina cake. Or, sometimes, when we’re back in India, there are chapattis and chai.
But God is still the same. So maybe authentic witness still begins in the same place: in my experience of God, in relying on Him, depending on Him, learning of Him, following Him, going through stuff with Him, seeing how He works, being changed by Him, enjoying His goodness and grace.
Right in front of people, out loud, in real time.
Lord, teach us how.