by David Phelps
“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” - Mother Teresa
At a party we attended recently, I was in charge of watching our four-year-old daughter, Monica, and her three-year-old friend, Melissa. At one point, Melissa looked at me with her big, brown eyes, and said, "Keep us out of trouble."
In exasperation, I replied, "I'm trying!" Afterward, I wondered whether God might respond the same way when we say the Lord's Prayer.
Us: "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."
God: "I'm trying!"
This column is a bit of a departure from the ones I usually write; instead of focusing on the how of witnessing, it's about the why. Temptation and evil -- in short, "trouble" -- are far too easy for us to find. We need someone to "keep us out of trouble," whether we are Christians or not. "For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do." (Rom. 7:19 RSV).
In our witnessing, it's important to remember that we're in the same situation as the people to whom we are witnessing. "'Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.'" (Mk. 2:17b RSV). Our witness is about two things: What God offers and what we offer. God offers salvation and forgiveness of sin; we offer community and belonging. The king in the parable of the wedding feast didn't invite only the best people; he invited ordinary people. (Matt. 22:9-10) The kingdom of God is open to all who come. Christ himself was rejected so that we wouldn't have to be. Because of this, we can welcome others into our fellowship, and give them a place to belong.
"For there is no distinction; since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus," (Rom. 3:22b-24 RSV.)